Kill Devil Hill returns with its much anticipated sophomore effort, and the follow-up to a highly impressive and successful debut. Most bands tabbed with the super-group label barely generate enough musical steam to carry a single album: They are generally ego heavy and weak in sonic content. Perhaps the fact that Kill Devil Hill is balanced by two wise and charismatic veterans in drummer Vinnie Appice (Black Dabbath, Dio) and bassist Rex Brown (Pantera, Down), and two talented but under-the-radar stars in guitarist Mark Zavon (Ratt, WASP) and vocalist Jason “Dewey” Bragg (Pissing Razors), is what gives these guys a powerful edge.
Kill Devil Hill’s eponymous debut offered a solid balance of subdued heft and attitude against moments of bombast and juttering energy. “Revolution Rise” continues to build on the foundation laid with the first record. This is the band’s first effort for Century Media Records, and they tapped Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner, Dio) to produce. The equally impressive Jay Ruston (Stone Sour, Anthrax) handled the mix.
What is immediately apparent from the opening tracks is that Kill Devil Hill have added more of a doomy vibe to many of the tracks, including the rolling juggernaut, “No Way Out” and the side-steppin’ aggression on “Crown of Thorns”. There is plenty of groove here and perhaps an Alice in Chains meets Black Sabbath feel to the harmonies and the intelligence of the performances. That Black Sabbath weight resurfaces on the stunning, “Wake Up the Dead.”
Much of the album’s rich density comes courtesy of the battery of Brown and Appice, however it is majesty and serpentine riff and roll bent of Zavon’s guitar work that really sets the tone for the record. Bragg continues to show his vocal maturity and growth here and is arguably the band’s low profile, secret weapon.
Tracks like “Leave it All Behind” showcases Kill Devil Hill’s more melodic tendencies and offers more of a classic hard rock feel with a set of big hairy balls; meaty riffs, and unpretentious hooks. Bragg slips out back into his Layne Staley-esque vocals for the grinding swerve of, “Why?”
“Long Way From Home” recalls a moody collision between classic 80′s era Ozzy and Whitesnake. Bragg gives a smooth Coverdale like performance. Meanwhile, “Where Devils Dare to Roam” offers up the album’s darkest track: A beastly, skullcracking affair. Brown’s bass line can be felt in your chest.
The band truly taps into its 80′s hard rock roots with “Endless Static” which feels like something Dokken might have released. It easily one of the album’s most radio ready tracks. ”Stealing Days” taps into that emotive 80′s style while driving headfirst into Jerry Cantrell’s cranium.
The beefy sludge returns for the wrecking ball swing of “Life Goes On”, with its wandering passages and angst fueled vocal delivery. Zavon truly shines on this one.
The feeling of hunger seeps through on the entire album. After more than a year of heavy touring, the band has brought a stronger, more noticeable chemistry to this record. It is clear in listening to the powerful and energetic undercurrent of “Revolution Rise” that the quartet has never been hungrier or more determined. Throw away the tired super-group label, Kill Devil Hill is simply one ass-kicking hard rock outfit making heavy as f%@k rock and roll music.