Devil to Pay has established a long career in the underground, cementing themselves as the go-to for grungy American doom. All this while being based in Indianapolis, perhaps the least likely of hotbeds for heavy metal activity. Parenthetically, the fact that Devil to Pay has experienced success outside their home market is a solid testament to the penetration and efficiency of the accessible digital marketplace.
Every Devil to Pay release to this juncture, including the most recent “Heavily Ever After,” has offered a plate full of simmering doom; power chords overdriven with gain and laid down with the pacing of a drugged elephant (and yes, that’s a compliment.) So as we approach this new record “Fate Is Your Muse,” it stands to reason that we should expect another helping of the same stew, right?
The answer is both yes and no. Certainly, “Fate Is Your Muse” is still loaded with metal thunder and choked with malevolent power. In keeping with recent genre trend however, Devil to Pay decides to try their hand at mixing in a healthy dose of rock and roll sensibility. All of a sudden, we’re greeted with “This Train Won’t Stop” which breezes along at a pace similar to, well, a runaway train.
These new affects that the band puts on display are almost akin to Devil to Pay having a dalliance with the early era of ZZ Top, especially as you get into “Savonarola.” Yet, as incongruent with the band’s usual paradigm as they may seem, these selections do not sound out of place. Rather, they are an unexpectedly pleasant new dimension from a band that was on the verge of being labeled “good, but predictable.”
Now, I hear the alarmed klaxon cry of fans who are yelling “But I like DtP the way they were! Where will I get my doom now?” Fret not; the band has not forsaken your loyalty. “Fate Is Your Muse” is still ready to dispense all the deep-grooved blues doom that DtP is famous for. You need not go far, as the album opens with “Prepare to Die,” “Wearin’ You Down” and the intense persistence of “Ten Lizardmen & One Pocketknife.” Any or all of these will satisfy Devil to Pay traditionalists.
If you’re looking for foreboding, un-lubricated grinding, then the seven minute “Yes Master” is the album’s Abrams tank, sauntering slowly and with measured rolls through the wreckage of doom metal’s blasted landscape.
“Fate Is Your Muse” is an album of accomplished and welcome variety, capable of sating an array of pallets and showcasing the band’s heady potential for metal versatility. If you haven’t discovered DtP yet, now’s as good a time as any.