Gather round children, and let me tell you a tale of a not-so-far-away place called Charm City and the benevolent rock and roll overlords who hold court there. I speak of course of the Charm City Devils and, for those unfamiliar with the area, Charm City, which is the nickname for Baltimore, Maryland. No, it was not an earthquake that knocked me on my ass this morning. That was just these Baltimore lads dropping their second release, “Sins”. It is that heavy.
Most of the time, despite the site name being Rock Music Critic, I tend to review metal and the extreme side of music. This is due to the fact that the vast majority of what passes for rock music these days is complete shit. I still get behind the classics, for example, I love the new Springsteen album, but in terms of emerging artists, there is a definite drought. Today that all changes because “Sins”, much like last year’s Rival Sons album, is the mega-phone-in-your-face wake-up call that the rock music scene desperately needs. SO WAKE UP PEOPLE!
The first single, “Man of Constant Sorrow”, has been out for a few months already, and it certainly whet my appetite to hear more. “Man of Constant Sorrow” is a cover of an old folk song of seemingly murky origin. One thing that we know for sure is the song is old. (Check out the forthcoming RMC interview with John Allen to hear a little more on the subject.) Some of you may know the song from the Joel and Ethan Coen movie, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” The version in the movie was pretty decent, but I feel this one has way more universal appeal.
The album starts off strong with a trio of killer tracks, “Spite”, “Unstoppable” and the aforementioned “Man of Constant Sorrow.” The first thing I noticed while listening to the opening track, “Spite”, was how much heavier this album sounds compared to their last album. Their first album, “Let’s Rock-N-Roll” was a gritty, bluesy hard rock album, and I liked it a lot, but “Sins” deftly sidesteps the sophomore slump and moves the bar up even more in terms of both quality and heaviness.
The fourth track, “Still Alive”, starts off by bringing down the intensity a little with some clean guitars and quiet vocals, but almost immediately begins to pick up steam again. I will not subject you to breakdowns of all the individual songs, but I do have to say that every track on “Sins” is worthy of the scrutiny. There is not an ounce of filler on this album; every single song is a classic waiting to happen. I cannot speak for you, but I do not come across albums like that very often.
In summary, I cannot encourage you enough to give these guys a listen. CHECK. OUT. THIS. ALBUM. To give you a nudge in the right direction I have included the video for their single “Man of Constant Sorrow.” Start it up, give it a listen and then try to tell me the song was not playing in your head for the rest of the day. If you happen to be from the area, or even if you are not, make sure you check out the CD release party at the Recher Theatre in Towson, Maryland on April 21st. These guys are fantastic live too! Here is me hoping “Sins” is UNSTOPPABLE!