(Animalville Records, CD)
Vermont rockers Devil's Night Out have the angst thing down pat. The band's debut full-length, Truths You Cannot Swallow, is loaded with pained mini-epics centering on troubled relationships and delivered with a double dose of youthful turmoil.
DNO are proponents of a style that was called "emo" a few years back -- I'm not sure it applies to this year's model, but for the lack of a better descriptor, I'll use it. Guitarist, vocalist and principal songwriter Peter Slater is a passionate young man with plenty to get off his chest. His thoughtful yet aggressive songwriting probably resonates well with the band's core audience; there's something about overdriven amps and heart-on-sleeve lyrics that the kids can't get enough of.
Slater's solid, melodic vocals are bookmarked by scorching riffs and introspective interludes -- in other words, the common currency of modern rock. "Numb" starts off with martial snare fills and a gentle guitar arpeggio before launching into the kind of chugging, radio-friendly sing-along that moves merch at shows.
"Dead Drunk" features a stinging guitar figure and howling vocals, showing that DNO has at least a smidgen of hardcore influence. Occasionally they bite off more than they can chew, though -- it's probably best to leave the heavy stuff for the really scary dudes.
The band fires on all cylinders on the disc's title track. An edgy, compelling rocker, the cut holds your attention from start to finish. Clever rhythms, catchy vocals and a math-rock bite come together in a quintessential teen-punk anthem.
It's cool to hear a young band with this much polish; with the exception of the occasional tempo lag or overreaching vocal, Devil's Night Out are tight. I'll bet that with a couple of tours under their belt, they'll be damn near unstoppable. But it might be tough for DNO to distinguish themselves from the hordes of similar-sounding acts. It's a crowded playing field out there, and even with tour support and promotional cash to burn, getting noticed isn't easy.
DNO have a head start with Truths. Their catchy, heartfelt tunes and marketable sound make them a band to watch. The band plays a Tsunami Benefit Concert this Wednesday, February 16 at Club Metronome.