[7 May 2012]
Somewhere out there right now, in a rundown sweat lodge of a club, Chicago, Illinois’s Bible of the Devil is playing to a fervent and inebriated crowd. Driving across states and nations in a dilapidated van that lets in the sub-zero or sickeningly humid air, Bible of the Devil is a road-weary outfit, accepting the grim reality of touring with a grimace and a grin. Doing the hard yards for little reward, aside from the pure ecstasy of standing in front of a stack of Marshalls and rockin’ like a hurricane. No doubt dysentery, dermatitis and unsightly discharges are but routine hurdles on the potholed trail to rock ‘n roll glory.
Lifers, you’d call them. Musicians who appreciate you don’t have to be sophisticated, profound, or even necessarily innovative to win favor with fans of bona fide heavy rock. Just play till your fingertips split every single time you plug in, that’s all that counts. Humble artists like that make albums like Love of Thugs and Fools. It’s a jagged, weather-beaten, last-whiskey-shot-of-the-evening release that tells a few after-hours exaggerated tales.
Given its moniker you’d be excused for thinking there was something diabolical about Bible of the Devil. But there is not. The group plays working-class American heavy rock. Over the course of six full-lengths, numerous 45s, and 13 years spent touring the US and Europe, the band has carved out a solid reputation among the underground weighty rock set.
There’s a lot to enjoy about Bible of the Devil, especially if you’re a fan of riding shotgun as the heavier rock of yesteryear is taken for another spin around the block. Love of Thugs and Fools bristles with heads-down, stouthearted Flying V gallops, with big old ‘70s arena rock flirtations to be found on “Yer Boy” and “The Parcher”. Firewater-scorched vocals courtesy of guitarist and vocalist Mark Hoffmann add the essential authenticity. Guitarist Nate Perry provides the other half of the crucial roughneck harmonic leads equation, and drummer Greg Spalding and bassist Darren Amaya provide the dependable backline.
Evolution be damned. It’s all hearty beer spilling cheers and smoke in your eye salutes to the band’s tenacious forbearers. The unvarnished, gristly tenor of early Manilla Road turns up on “Night Street”. A notable debt to the coarseness of New Wave of British Heavy Metal arrives with “Out for Blood”, and a fair degree of proto-metal and Thin Lizzy worship is to be found on “Can’t Turn Off the Sun” and “Anytime”, respectively. Bible of the Devil clearly believes that there’s no problem in the world that can’t be solved by downing a substantial amount of hard liquor, jamming some ‘70s and ‘80s riffs, and indulging in some late-night hazy barroom philosophy. Considering the world’s seemingly never-ending crises, that might just be a forum for political debate worth exploring.
Fans of headbanging at the front of the stage while the pre-show tape blasts over the PA, grasping their pals in neck-injuring hugs, or standing outside convenience stores at 5 am wondering why they’re missing three teeth will adore Love of Thugs and Fools. It’s an album that undoubtedly makes for a searing live set, but works just as well blasting away on your stereo as primer for Friday revelries.
In truth, if you’re a fan of esteemed cult rockers such as Clutch or Slough Feg, or you enjoy a rousing set of uncomplicated anthems, Bible of the Devil’s latest is a disc you should spin. Sure, it’s not the least bit groundbreaking, lyrically its clichéd as hell, Hoffmann’s raggedy voice has trouble staying in tune on occasion, and the production is pitted, prickly and raw. But all that primitiveness only accentuates its undeniable street-wise charm.
Bible of the Devil proudly preaches the scraggy bearded, unadulterated, and uninhibited word of dirty rock. It’s a congregation you might consider worth joining, given the only requirement is that you’re prepared to buy your round.