Released: 2003, Witches Brew
Devil Lee Rot is a new band to me from the fairly new label Witches Brew. To sum up the sound of this band in a sentence is not that hard to do. If you take some classic Iron Maiden riffs, complete with their style of guitar harmonies, throw in some old school NWOBHM influences and then add on a black metal styled vocalist you will have a very good idea of what you can expect. Unless you were born under a rock, you’ll recognize the band’s name from the great David Lee Roth of Van Halen. Other Roth references show up on the band’s other hilarious album titles like A LITTLE DEVIL AIN´T ENOUGH, HELLSCRAPER, and PAGAN FROM THE HEAT.
The CD being reviewed here is a double album release with the first being the superior METAL DICTATOR and the second, SOLDIER FROM HELL. METAL DICTATOR was recorded at ML Studio Falkenberg in May 2003. The CD kicks off with the track “Heroes of the Night” but it was the third song, “Hammer of Hell”, that really grabbed my attention with the best part provided by the guitar harmonies. Other stand out’s on METAL DICTATOR include "Stranger in the Paradise" that begins in classic AC/DC style a la “Hells Bells” and sounds cool.... even with Devil Lee Rot’s venomous blackened vocals. This is a slower song that creates a cool atmosphere with the semi-clean, yet still dirty, guitar parts. Another standout was "Satan's Militia" which sounds a bit like ancient Mercyful Fate with the riffing. The second album on the CD, SOLDIER FROM HELL, was recorded live in Swerre’s Studio. As a result of the “live” recording, the sound suffers. The CD is not as well polished musically, lyrically, or sound-wise. The album opens with "Thou Shalt Serve In Hell” – it has an immature intro and extremely crusty guitars…but still some cool riffing. It’s unfortunate the guitar sound on all of SOLDIER FROM HELL is so bad. Having what sounds like a blown amp recorded with a shot mic makes for quite an annoying guitar sound with extra crusty rhythms, and very thin and shrill leads....its bad enough that is takes away from my enjoyment of listening to SOLDIER FROM HELL. One song on this album did stand out and that was "Oath to Metal" which begins like it could be an old Celtic Frost tune cool and morbid.
The one thing that is cool about the band, in a way, is also the thing that limits them. The vocals are all the same and never change. There is never a note sung, it's all rasping gurgling black metal styled vocals. With melodic and very fucking cool backing music, I really think some strong, clean, rich, melodic vocals would really put this over the top…at least for me it would. That said Devil Lee Rot did impress me. I thought that with the band’s name they might be a bit of a joke band, but they are far from it. They recapture the sounds of old school heavy metal such as old Maiden, ancient Mercyful Fate, Angel Witch, etc. If you miss that sound, and you don’t mind one-dimensional black metal styled vocals, you are going to love this!