DEVILSKIN at The Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand on 22/10/17

As the country entering into a momentous change in government coincided nicely with the final night of their seven-date national tour, it seems fitting that tonight we’ll start a revolution with Devilskin and celebrate the new order.

Hot on the heels of their newly released EP “Woman”, His Masters Voice opened up the evening, and I’m not afraid to say it that I think they stole the show (for me at least, but as a long time fan I’m also biased). As a lead up to next weeks official EP launch show, hitting the biggest stage of their career couldn’t have come at a better time to widen the audience of what I think is one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets. Whilst the diminutive looking Jesse Sorensen (vocals/guitar) conjures forth the voice of a blackened angel (most likely via some dark magick voodoo), the quartet has it all – Az Burns’ (guitar) long dreadlocks drape easily over his guitar as solos and riffs go flying, to the solid driving backline of Brandön Bött (bass) and Rene Black (drums) – you’ve got a complete package of audio and visual mystique.

With the band hitting their biggest stage yet, and with it their biggest audience my only disappointment was that as a band more comfortable with a smaller venue, they didn’t quite work the stage as much as they could – working a bigger stage is just the next growth area for such a band, and I can’t wait to see these guys step it up to the next level in the future. Did the crowd notice? Maybe.  Did the crowd care? Not so much, I often find it rare to see a crowd respond so much to the opening act. Just as headliners Devilskin brought a much-needed revival of ‘radio friendly’ hard rock/alternative metal with Jennie’s powerful voice, His Masters Voice hit that sweet spot of something darker, with an equally powerful voice – just one albeit huskier.

Hitting the stage next comes Sumo Cyco from Hamilton, Ontario. Outside of that fact and that Devilskin met them on tour, and bonded over both coming from small towns of the same name – I was 100% unfamiliar with the band, and I wanted to keep it that way – leaving myself to be surprised on the night. It is unfortunate then, that a big part of me wishes that surprise had never been spoiled; even tho the band displayed non-stop high energy 90s style skater-punk with some killer bass lines, and clearly an ability to play – musically I just wasn’t feeling it. Over the course of 11 songs ( including one super cheesy cover of Give It Away by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers ) there was an inconsistency that left me somewhat confused by what I heard, front-women Skye Sweetnam was a joy to photograph, but I couldn’t help but think she looked like Miley Cyrus, with dreadlocks, freshly released from Solitary Confinement.

Kudos to bassist Ken ‘Thor’ Corke, and guitarist Matt ‘MD’ Drake for the epic beards. IMHO – the best part of the band.

Last up for the night – and the reason we’re all here – DEVILSKIN. Love them or hate them – you can’t deny the power and presence that front-woman Jennie Skulander brings to the table. Where Sweetman had an unbridled and raw energy – Jennie brings power, finesse, lungs of steel, and a look at just sets her apart. The powerhouse of Paul Martins‘ thundering bass drives Devilskin forward, tempered lock-step by Nic Martins‘ drumming and fleshed out with Nail Vincent’s guitars – a pair of red beards balance the visuals like bookends, it’s a battle to contain the audible storm filling the Power Station.

Musically I’ve never really connected to Devilskin’s music, I don’t deny I’m a huge progressive rock/metal fan with a penchant for doom but I don’t feel the band breaks new ground – and that’s OK – Not every band out there needs to be quirky and pushing the boundaries ( otherwise we’d have no actual boundaries to push ) but there’s no denying they have a sound that works, a work ethic that sees them going from strength to strength, and they do it well.

Judging by the size of the crowd and the excited chatter and comments leaving the venue here tonight – it would seem many agree.

What do you think?

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Written by Mark Derricutt

Software Developer, Music Photographer/Reviewer, Metal Head.

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