• Mark Derricutt @ Ambient Light Blog

Devilskin 2018 Tour @ Powerstation - Auckland

When I think of local hard-working bands and front men in the Auckland music scene, two names always come to mind – Dity Maharaj and Michael Murphy (Coridian / Written by Wolves). With every show I see they always bring their A+ game, continually stepping things up a notch, be it in performance or production.

Both front men, along with their respective bands are two of many driving a resurgence in high energy rock to the nation’s listeners, who for a long time have been fed the lie that rock is dead, or that it remains relegated to the past. In Maharaj and Murphy we now have ambassadors of rock and heavy metal to guide those who may have fallen to corporate rock towards the light, and thanks to them I have never walked away from a show feeling unsatisfied – and tonight was no different.

The evening begins with a darkened stage as Coridian starts off with a moody guitar intro which slowly rises then, blammo – we’re off with Maharaj showing fine form, his powerful voice riding just above a wall of guitars. Although the stage is cramped – the drums being pushed off to the far right – Coridian are undeterred for their first outing at the Powerstation, combining an impressive light show along with a full house. I’m not sure any opening act could ask for more.

As groovy bass lines and solid guitar riffs wind their way around verses building tension, we break out into an almost Tool like crescendo during ‘Seed Pt2’, before dropping back off and lingering till the track fades out. With two more songs to follow, Coridian’s eight song set seemed over before it had even begun, a tightly executed opening slot that clearly demonstrated that they have the goods to bring it home on bigger and better stages.

"In Maharaj and Murphy we now have ambassadors of rock and heavy metal to guide those who may have fallen to corporate rock towards the light."

Next up is Written By Wolves – and I’m not ashamed to say as a reviewer I’m biased and for me, this is the draw card tonight. Whilst I’m more comfortable with my extreme or avant garde metal there’s something about the Wolves that grabbed my attention, and each new release or show continues that tight hold upon me. Having headlined several of their own shows recently I noted that being in a supporting slot WBW had pared back their show on both the visual effects and stage props side of things which I looked upon as a chance for the band to return to their roots and just rock out for a change.

With the now familiar dual tribal like drumming intro from Davie Wong and Bahador Borhani – each flanking a side of the stage we’re led straight into ‘Not afraid to die’ and a room full of heads and bodies instantly move in unison. Hundreds of hands are raised in the air as the audience jumps in time to the bass, everyone completely engaged as the band moves through ‘Follow Me’ and ‘To Tell You The Truth’.

Up next is a tribute to Chester Bennington with ‘One step closer’; I confess I was never a huge Linkin Park fan, but one can’t deny the impact they had on people’s lives and the music scene around them so as you could imagine the crowd fell into hysterics over the song. ‘Signs’ brought in a heavy slow riff before breaking into rap style lyrics; with measured and hefty drums driving the song, I suspect this is one of the heaviest songs I’ve ever heard from Written By Wolves (tonight’s set closer ‘Master of Puppets’ notwithstanding).

Track ‘Starlight’ is one song that you cannot help but sing along to, it’s the infectiousness of their work that gets me. New song ‘Promise me’ which the band have started performing on this tour, has a familiar feeling to its intro but soon moves into fresh soaring bridge lines countering the short, almost spoken/rapped verses; if it’s one thing Written By Wolves do well, its hooks and breakdowns, and ‘Promise Me’ delivers both in ample spades. Released earlier in the week ‘Oxygen’ has been on high rotation on my playlist – live, it’s catchy, uplifting with a big chorus line, it is a track that is good to sing in the car, and even better in concert.

But now it’s time to part ways and what better way than with an exceptional cover of Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’. The first time I ever heard Written By Wolves they were performing this, and it’s one of the reasons I took notice of the band before falling in love with rest of their material; showing a different side of the bands prowess, it was an epic way to close the set.

Finally, it’s time for Devilskin – the reason we’re all here tonight. The stage is adorned with mounted projection screens the fires of the underworld burning upon them, all hell breaking loose as the band hit the stage, the crowd frenzied. Tonight’s show comprises of a solid twenty track set list, which for a band still relatively young, is an impressive feat to pull off night after night, and is a testament to the hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears the band have put in to get to where they are.

Kicking it off with ‘Limbs’ Devilskin has the crowd hanging on every word, the fans that have been there with them from the beginning screaming the lyrics in time with lead vocalist Jennie Skulander. Moving through to ‘Elvis Presley Circle Pit’ – always a crowd favourite – the energy of the fans shows no signs of slowing down. New song ‘All fall down’ is a solid rocker, but I note that Jennies vocals tonight are not quite working for me, it is show number seven of a heavy tour though so maybe that’s a factor.

As the set progresses, I’m still not quite feeling the mix. Devilskin ride that heavier, more oppressive tone within their songs which is one of their more appealing quality for fans who lean towards the heavier side of music; but tonight, the heavy thumping of Paul Martin’s bass seems to overshadow Nails guitar slightly. Hopefully as the set continues things will balance out.

‘Endo’ released earlier in the week is accompanied by projection screens that display rotating skeletons, Devilskin having massively stepped up their game when it comes to visual presentation. A deeply personal song for Skulander that addresses her battle with endometritis it is a rather upbeat track, conveying in many ways the inner strength that Skulander so obviously has; let’s face it, there are not many lead singers who would so happily declare that a song was about their ovaries!

By the time ‘Believe In Me’ and ‘Voices’ drop – back to back which makes for a killer one, two – the mix is back on track, the screens now sporting the “official NZ street team member” skull patch. The crowd is in full sing-along mode with anthemic like gusto, the undeniable sound of the masses calling out to their deity of the night. Another new song ‘Same Life’ is delivered and now we’re talking! Guitars in our faces, Jennie in full death metal growl mode and we kick in hard and fast. A little hit and miss in the verses for me, but on the whole an absolute ripper of a tune!

‘Dirt’ sees big crowd chants as we enter the show closers, riffs upon more riffs fill the room, the solid powerful lurching of Paul’s bass driving one’s head to bang uncontrollably. The song rising and falling like empires collapsing into dust, or as it were… dirt. Set closer ‘Start a Revolution’ is hugely infectious as always; there’s a reason this track works, a commandment to the army of fans, it draws everyone together with its message; start a revolution, be the change in the world you want. Go forth and RISE.

“Devilskin…Devilskin” the encore chant is thunderous as it reverberates around the room; the band returns, the chain saw is out, and it feels like the show is almost beginning rather than ending. ‘Vessel’ and ‘Violation’ are undeniably two colossal tracks, full of huge choruses that keep the audience engrossed. Devilskin have once again shown how to both put on, and pull off a show, leaving me sated, and beyond satisfied. It is also abundantly clear from the cheers, staggering, swaying, and dancing bodies around me that I’m not alone in that thought. ‘Little Pills’ completes the night, as metal should be, it is heavy, thunderous, and in your face.



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