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Kill Devil Hill - "Kill Devil Hill" (CD)

Kill Devil Hill - "Kill Devil Hill" CD cover image

"Kill Devil Hill" track listing:

1. War machine 3:09
2. Hangman 3:40
3. Voodoo doll 3:53
4. Gates of hell 4:53
5. Rise From The Shadows 4:03
6. We`re All gonna die 4:26
7. Strange 3:31
8. Time & time Again 3:50
9. Old Man 3:06
10. Mysterious Ways 2:25
11. Up In Flames 6:04
12. Revenge 4:54

Reviewed by on May 14, 2012

"With veterans like Vinny Appice and Rex Brown playing better than they have in years, and Dewey Bragg showing a talent that will likely propel him to the legendary status of his bandmates, this is a serious contender for the best metal disc of 2012."

From Blind Faith to Audioslave, most so-called "supergroups" wind up being less than the sum of their already-famous parts. Kill Devil Hill, featuring ex-Black Sabbath and Dio drummer Vinny Appice, ex-Pantera and Down bassist Rex Brown, as well as guitarist Mark Zavon, who's played with Stephen Pearcy of Ratt and new vocalist Dewey Bragg, is a splendid exception to that rule.

Rather than jettisoning the sounds that made them famous individually, Brown, Appice and crew have created a furious fusion of the southern-fried grooves of Pantera and the sludgy Sabbath stomp of albums like Heaven And Hell's "The Devil You Know," with more than a little Alice In Chains influence on Kill Devil Hill's self-titled debut.

Appice, in particular, seems to be reinvigorated on this album. His drumming on "The Devil You Know," quite frankly fell short of his glory days with Sabbath and Dio. Not so on Kill Devil Hill tracks like "We're All Gonna Die," which blends Sabbath riffs with an Alice In Chains-style vocal, which has Appice playing killer fills that give a big energy boost to the mid-tempo tune. He also seems to be delighting in playing some faster tunes, with a furious intro to "Revenge," which has a nifty little hiccup to it that less capable drummers would likely be incapable of replicating.

Brown's bass parts add a little bit of southern-fried groove to the Geezer Butler template on "Rise From The Shadows." He's an excellent bridge between Appice's rock-solid rhythms and Zavon's lead guitar, especially when Zavon shreds the fretboard on "War Machine" and "Up In Flames."

Zavon's guitar work is fantastic throughout, save for an exceptionally basic riff on on the somewhat uninspired "Old Man," which is the album's sole misfire. Whether it's the stuttering opening to "Revenge" or the groovy bounce of "Strange," Zavon's every bit as dedicated to creating memorable riffs as he is to blowing your mind in the solos — which he also accomplishes in ways that had me thinking of guys like Zakk Wylde and the late, great Dimebag Darrell.

Dewey Bragg may just be this year's breakout star in metal, delivering a vocal performance that recalls the likes of Layne Staley and Phil Anselmo's more melodic moments. "Hangman," in particular, with its southern slide guitar work, has moments in the chorus that are so achingly reminiscent of Staley's work on "Dirt" that it'll cause goosebumps for any Alice In Chains fan. He's also a natural with the quieter stuff, with a soulful turn in the Led Zeppelin-inspired acoustic track, "Mysterious Ways."

A supergroup in the truest sense of the word, Kill Devil Hill has created a masterpiece on its self-titled debut disc. With veterans like Vinny Appice and Rex Brown playing better than they have in years, and Dewey Bragg showing a talent that will likely propel him to the legendary status of his bandmates, this is a serious contender for the best metal disc of 2012.

Highs: Superb performances throughout, with "Revenge," "Mysterious Ways" and "We're All Gonna Die" especially standing out.

Lows: Though not a terrible song, "Old Man" is quite generic compared with the rest of the album.

Bottom line: Kill Devil Hill is a truly super supergroup, bringing the best of its history to bear on this debut disc.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)