|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Tom E. Morrison|
|Record Label: Big Sky Song||Country Of Origin: Australia|
|Year Released: 2015||Artist Website: Deth Enemy|
|Tracks: 13||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 48:32|
Want proof that Australia is still capable of producing a hard rock band that ranks with the genres best? Look no further than Queensland based Deth Enemy and its Big Sky Song Records September of 2015 full-length debut Unmovable. The brainchild of brothers Al (lead vocals & guitars) and Frank (drums) Caiulo, Deth Enemy “delves into the dark of a world arching into the abyss to split it with light, taking a stand for the soul once and for all” (as outlined in the groups press material). The Deth Enemy goal is to additionally “strip the sin back from the sound like paint thinner, black being bleached back to white, dark dripping away to light” while also “touching on the listing line between life and death and throwing the hope rope out to a society swimming in ruins.”
While many identify with Australia for yielding the brazen sounds of AC/DC and smoother flavorings to Little River Band, Deth Enemy walks a fine line between the two from drawing upon both sides of the fence. Specifically, Deth Enemy stays true to the former by joining driving hard rock guitar riffs and a keyed up rhythm section with the no-nonsense muscle to match, but emphasizes the latter in terms of accessible leanings found in fitting doses of AOR and commercial melodic rock. The upshot is a group with a multifarious sound that owes its allegiance equally to the seventies (think Resurrection Band and similar acts) and eighties (sort of like Whitecross and its contemporaries).
Helping put Deth Enemy over the top is Al Caiulo, perhaps the most dynamic front man this reviewer has heard since Luke Richard Webber (Razorigami). Similar to Webber, Caiulo gives rise to abilities that allow him to reach low for a snarling low-end growl (sort of like Alice Cooper with hints of Scott Wenzel thrown in) but also stretching and giving rise to an every bit as inviting melodic and classic tenor presence. He best reveals said abilities on opening cut “C.O.D. (Call Of The Devil)”, a powerhouse hard rocker with a robust flair (one of the albums heaviest) that finds him imbuing the vehement scene with his trademark caustic sensibilities but interspersed with period high end falsettos. Great groove driven track that sets the tone for what is to follow.
Also in a heavier heading is “The Hammer”, reciprocal to its namesake with its pummeling riff driven mentality and gutsy as it gets refrain, and “Eternally Blessed”, aligning an exuberant front to back tempo with guitars that wound not sound out of place on an old Kiss album. Common to the two are Al Caiulo’s animated lead guitar work. “Disciple” takes the guitar based facets to the next level, torrid and fiery in approaching eighties classic metal territory but also engaging from the catchy hooks inherit to its hardy chorus. Saint fans will dig this one.
“Wicked World” is my favorite of the heavier Unmovable pieces. The song revels in bare bones classic hard rock in yielding a dominant authoritative presence and brilliantly flowing “wicked-world-wicked-world” refrain. Al Caiulo does his best Alice Cooper impersonation ahead of the shred instrumental break. “Crucifier” entices all the same, a slower and darker number that highlights an ominous chill and the thickly weighted guitars that go hand in hand. The near mesmerizing vocal melodies lend to the high emotion setting in question.
“Dark Side of The Blues” proves another aptly entitled track. Yes, blues influences abound throughout an earthy scene, as gritty guitars align with the enlivening and upbeat tempo throughout. I particularly enjoy the grooving feel to the low end, noting the compact work of timekeeper Frank Caiulo. In the end, this one represents a transitional piece between the albums heavier material and that taking a commercial tone.
Speaking of which, “One Thousand Years” separates itself as a classy melodic hard rocker in which polished backing vocals and tight guitar harmonies converge over a richly woven bass line, while the same applies “I Believe In Angels” with its polished pop essence and crisp rhythm guitars wrapped in commercial AOR package. “When An Angel Falls” mirrors an eighties wave your lighter in the air power ballad- and a very good one at that. Emotion runs on high as airy guitars, wondrous backing vocals and engaging refrain collide for a play me on FM radio mentality. A fitting stretch of bluesy lead guitar rounds things out.
Also of an accessible nature is the incredible “Devil’s Playground”, an atmospheric acoustic laced piece flirting with AOR-ish melodic rock territory that at a moments notice breaks out for periodic explosions of hard rocking angst. Creative is the immediate impression from songwriting of a very high caliber. “Open Your Heart” also presents with an acoustic basis with its moving hints of the worshipful. The song starts slowly, growing and building through its verses on the way to a chorus that repeats the “open your heart” title in brusque fashion.
Lone song in which I struggle is “Ordinary People”, another commercial melodic rocker with an upbeat tempo and hints of the acoustic. The song is by no means bad or skip button worthy but (in my opinion) also lacks the swagger to the heavier material and clever inventiveness of that with a lighter touch. It falls somewhere in between and does not quite find itself in the process.
Producer Tom E. Morrison, who also contributes on bass, keyboards and guitars, achieves near perfect results with full and weighty guitars forward in the mix while leaving ample room for the rhythm section to breathe. Vocals likewise enhance but do not dominate.
Packaging is every bit professional, with a 4-panel digi-pak that includes a multi-page mini booklet with lyrics and detailed liner notes in which the band gives thanks to “God Almighty, and His Son Jesus Christ”.
Song titles leave little doubt as to how Unmovable is a Christian project. “Crucifier” speaks of this best:
This man that stands before you
This man from Bethlehem
This man that stands before you
Now claims to be the Son of Man
A king he says (Crucify)
We want him dead (Crucify)
This man that stands before me
This man has hurt no one
As does “Open Your Heart”:
I have up my only Son
To die for you on the cross
For your sins He was crucified
Is that not enough
The ultimate sacrifice
The key to an open door
The bridge between you and I
“One Thousand Yeas” talks about exactly that:
I’m back, just now I promised you
Like a thief in the night, I’m here
I am, I am the Way
The Truth and the Life, the Door
I am your Saviour, I am the Light
A new dawn will rise
We will reign for a thousand years
“Dark Side Of The Blues” delivers an anti-suicide message:
Sometimes there’s no one around when you need them
Sometimes life gets ya down on believing
Some days, I know, you’ve gotta get up and fight
Don’t play Russian roulette with your life
Don’t hang your head
Don’t play the dancer’s fool
Find God instead
Don’t’ fall into the dark side of the blues
Deth Enemy shines on Unmovable from how it immaculately melds straightforward hard rock with commercial and melodic rock sensibilities. Ultimately, it follows the same pattern of success that makes the past two Stryper full lengths such solid releases and represents the album Whitecross should have reformed to record ten years ago or more specifically the direction fans wish Guardian had taken post Miracle Mile. In the end, great song after great song presents itself - “Wicked World”, “Dark Side Of The Blues”, “Devil’s Playground” and “Crucifier” to name a few - backed by strengths in the areas of vocals, musicianship and production. If a fan of any type of hard rock (seventies influences or that paying tribute to the eighties) then do not hesitate to make Unmovable a necessary purchase.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “C.O.D. (Call Of The Devil” (3:35), “One Thousand Years” (3:25), “Wicked World” (3:42), “When An Angel Falls” (3:49), “Dark Side Of The Blues” (3:21), “The Hammer” (2:55), “Disciple” (3:32), “Devil’s Playground” (4:34), “I Believe In Angels” (4:09), “Eternally Blessed” (3:04), “Ordinary People” (3:52), “Crucifier” (4:04), “Open Your Heart” (4:51)
Al Caiulo - Lead Vocals, Guitars & Bass
Frank Caiulo - Drums
Tom E. Morrison - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards & Percussion
Rachel Morrison - Backing Vocals