Album Review: Vo’Devil Stokes – Black Snake

Over the past few years, there’s been a wave of change within genre of “-core” music and what it ultimately ends up sounding like. It’s gotten to a point where a strict definition is hard to find as a multitude of elements and stylistic changes have found their way into bands that typically define their sound within that genre. While progression is a key component to music and the growth of bands, the massive shift can most likely be attributed to the ramped up success of bands who were once rooted in core music (Bring Me The Horizon, Of Mice & Men) and ended up shifting almost entirely away from their earlier sound to a more approachable, and ultimately radio friendly style. This shift has made its way throughout the ranks, all the way down to the newer, smaller and unknown bands. With their debut album Black Snake set to drop June 3rd, one of those unknown bands is Russian outfit Vo’Devil Stokes who want to show the world they too can craft an album that showcases the directional shift in core music.

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Genre: Post Hardcore | Rock
Label: Independent
Release: June 3, 2016
Connect: Facebook | Twitter
Purchase: iTunes | Google Play
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While the album is closely associated to the rock genre from an instrumental perspective, the core sound of Black Snake comes from its atmospherically driven use of electronics with layered synthesizers creating a backing to the instrumentation. This backing comes across throughout the entirety of the album and feels as if it is the ultimate driving force for the sound Vo’Devil Stokes aimed to create. One of the things many bands who utilize a heavier electronic approach tend to avoid is variety – and for good reason. It’s incredibly hard to create unique and catchy synth-driven programming that not only flows well, but meshes with the rest of the music instrumentally and vocally. Coupled with a lack of knowledge in regards to when and when not to use such sounds, entire albums can come out with a feeling of a style that was shoehorned into it for the sake of popularity. This facet doesn’t entirely apply to Black Snake as the use of electronics blend into the music and never come across overly forced or leave a lasting impression of feeling out of place. To top it off, there’s an ample amount of variety to be found here in not only the electronic usage, but in the overall musicality found throughout. From the guest spot on “Banshee” that includes a well-placed rap verse to the heavily inspired alt-metal “Black Snake” and electronica driven “The Walking Dead”, there’s a bit of something for everyone. Whether or not that’s a good thing ultimately depends on the listener.

Clocking in at just over 30 minutes and featuring 8 tracks, Black Snake feels as if it can succinctly be summed up as a musical adventure. With electronics driving the full sound accompanied by a continuous utilization of variety (guitar solos, chants, scratching, riddled synthesizers, etc) there’s a lot of inspiration and influences to be found from a multitude of bands and no one can fault them for truly finding what works. The unfortunate effect of such variety is that for the most part, the overall package seems to suffer for a lack of a solid musical direction. This shouldn’t dissuade people from listening as they’d be doing a disservice to themselves because what is there isn’t bad and certainly has a mainstream appeal. With more time in the kitchen and a better overall flow, the next offering from Vo’Devil Stokes certainly has the potential to launch them into the spotlight.

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