Review: Devils In Heaven – Rise
AOR Heaven (June 25th 2021)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
Devils In Heaven is one of those long forgotten late 80s AOR/Hard Rock bands that tried to make a stir but due to bad luck and timing, they were never able to do much outside of winning The Australian Star Search in 1991. This album is a collection of songs that were recorded at that time and also includes bonus tracks and songs from an EP they released in 1993.
While a long lost album is certainly something that can reward us with treasures that we never knew existed, this album is a mixed bag. There are some good songs certainly, but others that are as predictable and generic as they come. There is nothing about this band that makes them stand out or differentiate from their contemporaries. There are tracks that remind me of bands like Aviator, American Angel, and Tyketto. Unfortunately, those bands do songs like this (in some cases) better and with much better production.
That’s one of the big issues with this album, the production. Take for example Track 3 (’Take Me’). It’s unquestionably a demo, with the sound dropping out of the tape from which it was transferred. While other songs don’t reach that level of annoyance, the quality of the recordings on various songs is low.
Of the songs that sound better and deliver the goods, there are a few tracks that should be sought out. It’s easy to see why AOR Heaven released ‘Liberation’ as the single. It’s their best song and a great way to start off the album. The chorus is as catchy as the best melodic rock songs of its time. ‘Ships In The Night’ and ‘Ain’t It A Wonder’ are actually featured twice on the album, and in both cases, the “1990 Bonus Track” versions are better than the original, where the instrumentation is able to breathe and the levels on all of the instruments do not sound the same. Singer David Whitney also gives a more impassioned performance.
A few other tunes are also interesting and stand out from all the other tracks on the album. ‘Listen To My Heart’ is practically a dance track and has a nice bass melody line provided by Matt Shield and sporadic keys from Nelson Tabe. The guitar takes the backseat normally reserved for the bass. That makes it unique and catchy, in a dance song kind of way. With ’Your Beating Heart’, the bass line once again takes the forefront and together with a solid rhythm from drummer Phil Crothers (RIP) makes for a solid track. This could easily be mistaken for a Tyketto tune. In terms of chorus construction, it sounds like a leftover from one of their first two albums. The singer even seems to sound like Danny Vaughn on this one. Fans of early Tyketto should absolutely seek this out.
Those five songs are definitely worth your time and should either be purchased or routinely streamed. As for everything else, it’s the type of stuff that we have all heard before by bands that do it much better. Certainly listen to the album from your favorite streaming service to determine which tracks work for you, but this is not an outright blind album purchase.