Self-proclaimed German supergroup Devil’s Train celebrates their tenth anniversary with the release of their third album, Ashes & Bones, via Rock of Angels Records (ROAR). Main man, singer and producer RD Liapakis has brought together a collection of Germany’s finest for the current incarnation of the band.
Devil’s Train – Ashes & Bones (ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records)
Release Date: 24 June 2022
Words: Dave Bonney
Six-string wizard Dan Baune (Lost Sanctuary/ex-Monument) is joined by drummer Jörg Michael (ex-Saxon/Stratovarius/Axel Rudi Pell/Running Wild) and bass player Jens Becker (Grave Digger/ex-Running Wild/ex-X-Wild) to complete this quality array of talent.
The Devil & The Blues open up the album with a bass line lower than a snake’s belly accompanied by big drums, which lead into a down and dirty guitar riff straight into wah-pedal heaven. Think hazy smokey dive bars, Marlboro’s and Jack, damp, sticky carpets and scantily clad pole dancers, and you get the picture of what this song is all about.
Funnily enough, that’s exactly what the video for this first release from the album depicts quite accurately. Devil’s Train have outdone Mötley Crüe on this one.
Girl Of South Dakota takes it up a notch on the tempo scale, a straight-ahead no-nonsense rocker with solid riffs and searing solos by Baune, while the impressive rhythm section of Michael and Becker keeps this train firmly on the rails.
Rising On Fire gets back on that dirty rock n’ roll track “rising on fire, I was born to rock n’ roll”, ending with some frantic fretwork from Baune, who really has been an inspired choice by Liapakis hot on the heels of his epic Lost Sanctuary release. The guy literally is rising on fire at the moment, once again proving his dexterity and versatility, scorching hot property indeed.
You Promised Me Love treads a fine line towards Whitesnake territory, never a bad thing in my book and with Liapakis in fine voice sounding very Coverdale-esq in parts, I’m guessing it’s a compliment he’ll gladly take. Still, more importantly, it’s a great song with another sizzling video to boot.
The title track, the epic Ashes & Bones, is another bluesy rockin’ Southern slow burner. Starting out acoustically with accompanied harmonica before breaking into more grimy riffage, it ticks all the boxes with lyrics about drinking wine and whiskey and rolling the dice with the devil. Lucifer really has been a popular boy so far, ending as it began with nylon strings as the sun sets in the distance.
More hits you like a solid ball of rock with its opening Eddie VH-like riff, Liapakis taking it down a little mid-song, almost ad-libbing Diamond Dave showboating style. It’s not too hard to hear where the inspiration for this rocker comes from.
In The Heat of The Night is not a Diamond Head cover, mores the pity, as that particular song would fit well on this album with its bluesy representation. It is, however, another slab of rock n’ roll on the slower bluesy end of the scale, starting off with more rumbling four-string. Again, it has a Whitesnake feel to it, and with the classic line of “you’re shining like a star, pretty sexy, fuckin sick bizarre,” you can guess the subject matter.
With the interesting title of Smell Sex Tonight, I imagined another slice of steamy, sweaty down n dirty groovy hard rock blues, but not at all. In fact, what we get is another hell-bound iron horse rocker that keeps on the straight and narrow, never veering off into something it’s not supposed to be. It’s hard, and it’s heavy and slots in nicely to the pattern this album is taking.
Alas, Rock & Roll Voodoo Child isn’t a Led Zeppelin/Jim Hendrix mash-up, but it is another glorious nod towards a certain band already mentioned. With its Ready And Willing opening riff, big guitars, and big chorus, Liapakis belts out the vocal “stare out to the rainbow, look out to the sky, welcome to my world, rock & roll voodoo child.” It’s a bonafide ear worm.
When the first riff of Hold The Line hits my shell likes, I drew a sigh of relief after fearing the worst, if you get what I mean? Fortunately, it’s not a Toto cover. It’s a damn fine slab of high-octane headbanging heaven, ending with the vocalist bellowing out, “hold the fuckin’ line”…Bravo sir!
After a bar room, acoustic intro Man With A Gun kicks off ZZ style with guitar dirtier than Boris Johnson’s proverbial laundry, showcasing Liapakis vocals, who really does possess one the finest set of lungs out there in rock n’ roll utopia, ending with more sublime fretwork from Baune.
One could be forgiven for thinking the world really doesn’t need another rocked-out cover version of Cameo’s Word Up. Though having said that, I much prefer this take on it than Gun or Korn’s previous efforts, oh and did I mention the video?
So, there we have it, a good time rock n roll, fun album with a big production, full of energy, sex appeal and Southern sleaze. Sounding at times vigorous and aggressive, at other times easy and laid back, executed by exemplary musicianship that will sit comfortably anywhere across one’s record collection.
The train on platform 666 to South Dakota is about to leave. All aboard the Devil’s Train.
It’s out today, so go get it, or Lucifer will not be best pleased.