Review: DeVicious – Code Red

Review: DeVicious – Code Red

Metalapolis Records (May 26th, 2023)

Reviewer: Jason Hopper

DeVicious is back just one year after their last release ‘Black Heart’, a quasi-concept album that seemed like it was going to evolve its story into the comic book medium before being abandoned by the band. With new release ‘Code Red’, the band have returned to the previous stylings of their earlier works. Just weeks after their last album was released, singer Antonio Calanna left the band for personal reasons. The band decided to recruit latter day TNT singer Baol Bardot Bulsara, who sang backup on their last album.

So what can fans expect? I’m afraid they’re going to be disappointed. There’s some strong tracks for sure, but a big step down from their last album, which I reviewed and rated highly (review here). The album sure starts strong with opening track ‘Are You Ready for Love’. The catchiest song on the album, this ranks with the best songs from their catalogue. Led by a strong, anthemic keyboard melody line, this one is sure to please their fans. Track 2 is where you start to see cracks in the façade. Second single ‘Highway to the Stars’ has programmed horns that just do not work for me, creating a poppiness to the track that is inconsistent with the lyrical content.  A song about driving fast should not have elements that diminish its impact, which the horns do here. Another point of contention, the song is about racing home to meet up with a lover, but contains this bizarre line sung after the chorus: “I’m in a race with Jupiter and Mars”.  What the hell does that even mean? There wasn’t a better rhyme for “stars” than “Mars”?

Things get back on track with the next two songs. First single ‘Madhouse’ is a biting commentary about a woman who is nuts. The slow down, tempo change in the bridge brings forth energy at the onset of the chorus. A track that is certain to make you bop your head and sing along.

Next comes my favorite song on the album, ‘Stuck in Paradise’. Up-tempo and commanding, the vocal layers that shout the words in the chorus resonate with me in a way that made me sing the song in my head for days.

What follows next are songs that never seem to get out of second gear. Outside of Track 8’s ‘House of Cards’, all the other songs are lacking. There are parts that are interesting, in particular the verses, but the choruses are a let-down. Part of this can be attributed to new singer Baol Bardot Bulsara. He puts in an admirable effort, but I prefer the vocal stylings of previous singer Antonio Calanna. He had more power to his voice and I think he could have elevated these numbers and given more strength to the heart of the songs.

I have to make a special mention to, by far, the worst track on this album. It’s a re-recording of one of their best songs from their 2018 album ‘Never Say Never’. ‘Penthouse Floor’ was pure AOR bliss on that record. The re-recording, here featured as a bonus track, has been butchered.  With a completely different arrangement, the track is sped up and “dancified” for an inferior makeover. Avoid and stick to the original.

Production-wise, previous album ‘Black Heart’ had more punch and bottom end in the production. Taken straight from the press release, I prefer the “sound experiments” of that album. The band seemed to be getting stronger with each release and I was hoping for greatness here and was left disappointed. It’s a shame that the band had a backslide like this and here’s hoping they regain their footing with their next one.

Track Listing:

  1. Are You Ready for Love
  2. Highway to the Stars
  3. Madhouse
  4. Stuck in Paradise
  5. No More Tears
  6. Raise Your Life
  7. Not Anymore
  8. House of Cards
  9. All My Life
  10. Walk from the Shadows
  11. Penthouse Floor 2023 (Bonus Track)