by Jason Wellwood
Let’s get this out of the way first: this is album is not going to be as heavy as you think it will. When you have a metal rhythm section whose backgrounds include Black Sabbath (Vinny Appice/drums) and Pantera (Rex Brown/bass) expectations will be high that the album features some blistering heavy metal. Kill Devil Hill aren’t about blistering, but they are damn sure about hard and hook laden.
Kill Devil Hill (the album) features 11 tracks that will stick in your head and though they might not get your head banging exactly. There are some steering wheel pounders, some toe tappers and definitely a couple of tracks that will get your fist in the air, but for the most part you may just find yourself…singing along! Kill Devil Hill (the band) lay down some very thick, slick hard rock. Appice and Brown groove together as if they’d been a team for years and while they may not be playing heavy metal per se, they definitely add a whole lot of heavy to the beat.
The standouts performance wise though are the relative ‘unknowns’ in the band: guitarist Mark Zavon and vocalist Dewey Bragg. Zavon may be the most surprising, his solos are mind blowing in places and during the verses, he knows how to lay back in the groove of the song, but still add in some incredible accents. Bragg’s vocal work is also surprising, going from a powerful snarl to a melodic drawl to an angst ridden snarl all in the same song. There is always a danger when you add a couple of ‘superstars’ to a project that there will be some over playing but it’s obvious that the end goal of Kill Devil Hill (the album and the band) is to make great music.
Everyone performs what they need to in order to make the songs as strong as possible, nothing more and nothing less.
From the slamming, hard rock kick off of ‘War Machine’ to the 90’s hard rock feel of ‘Voodoo Doll’ and the sludgy goodness of ‘Time & Time Again’ Kill Devil Hill have created a solid, jaw dropping debut. This is groove rock at its finest and I dare say it will have the heavy metal and hard rock worlds talking for a long time to come. This is a 2012 must have.