Stone Devils Demo EP
Mercy/ Ashes and Sack / Reveal Me / ZX82 / Besame o Matame

Preston power trio Stone Devils have a live sound that can level mountains. Thunderous, metronome drumming, flashy, virtuoso guitar and expert manipulation of feedback make for a scorching brew of Blue Cheer strength and crunching Foo Fighter groove. A Molotov cocktail of style, arrogance and musical discipline. This fire, however, has not translated well to record. Don't get me wrong, this demo is slicker and more polished that any I've ever heard but it gives the band a little too much sheen. They sound too tight. On stage, opener 'mercy' is a sonic kick in the face with its lurching stop/start power chords and ascending vocals which lead the whole band into a thick racket. Here it sounds tamed, like a dog with muscle but no bite. It's the same song but the guitars are down a little to highlight the vocals. This removes some of the amplified visceral punch. The drums provide a firm backbeat but again, they're reigned in, and smoothed out. They sound small and tinny compared to the pounding orchestra of sledgehammers which let rip when the band play live.

Having said this, 'reveal me' on repeated listens is ..err.. a revelation. Whilst the other stuff looses some of its incendiary energy in the studio, here we get an enormously impressive use of production to layer and enhance the number. The song gradually grows from an unnerving, ominous strum to a full on freak out. In the early section though we also get, quiet digitised bursts of guitar. In terms of the whole song these crackly whispered phrases act to increase the listen suspense. They're like brief spots of rain before the cloudburst or intermittent radio communications warning of the approaching storm. In addition to this, the backing vocals on 'zx82' lend to the rock stomp a kind of exotic, otherworldly chant making it deep and dense.
Let me say this. This record peddles some tight, high quality rock. The band sound confident, together and aware of their considerable talent. The moments when it appears weak are due to them setting such an explosive standard on the live circuit. If you like good, powerful music, you'll get a kick out of this record. But do yourself a favour; see these guys live because that's where the real fire burns.

James Riley