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Album Review: Devil's Deal
Werebear is a strange beast.
Emerging out of the dusty farm town of Orosi, CA, Werebear continues to contain their high energy, thrash inducing garage punk, but also staying within an indie rock framework. Although this may seem like an obvious attribute, but keeping grungy guitars and big synth on a tight rope without it being a giant parade of dissonance is not easy. Werebear keeps the DIY-punkers moshing, and the indie kids sipping on their craft brew and their head’s bopping.
Werebear serving noise punk out of a thrashed ice cream truck. Vocalist/guitarist Cristobal Carrillo and Drummer Enrique Ramriez.
Devil’s Deal, Werebear's debut full-length, takes the formula from their previous works Night of the Werebear and First Bite, and adds even more detail into the mythos surrounding the band. Song titles such as “The Sunlight” and “The Hunter at Work” really plays into their whole motif, the dichotomy of us all having this primal side, restrained within our reserved selves, and sometimes, it comes out of us, and it should be celebrated.
Werebear's vocalist/guitarist Cristobal Carrillo claims this record is a concept album, but luckily for us it doesn’t encroach into the obtuse non-sense that most “concept albums” fall into, which just comes off as being self-indlugent (i.e. Prog and Metal bands.) Rather, the album has its well placed narrative spaced within the songs, creating an arcing story, connecting the whole record together as a cohesive piece. The songs have a particular order, and judging by their names, you can decipher how it all comes together.
Devil’s Deal starts with the biggest riff I have heard all year, which has a feel good Fang Island vibe, then cuts straight into Werebear’s familiar pounding, unrelenting drums and crunchy bass. The The song, titled same as the album, has Carrillo’s voice carriying over the distorted chords, bellowing his lyrics of searching for love, but needs good ol’ satan for some assistance in obtaining the prize, a Devil's Deal.
The rest of the songs on Devil's Deal have a consistent flow to it, and never overstay their welcome, as most tracks are barely reaching three minutes, which fits the garage punk style. Standout tracks include the doomsaying crier "Apcolapyse," and "Something You Can Feel," which has a surprising, eerie Tom Waits vibe to it.
Although Carrillo’s clarity with his vocals gives Werebear that college indie-rock appeal, It couldn’t be helped but to feel that there is this growing intensity within his voice, a monstrous creature that never quite escapes into an all-out frenzy, like he does in the aptly-named track “Ursa”. (Latin for “bear”) It would be nice to see them take the improved songwriting applied in Devil’s Deal, with the same frantic, growling vocals from their previous works.
That said, Devil's Deal is a fantastic record from these Central Valley DIY'ers, and as the comparison I have made since I first heard them at FUSE 2011, I have always thought, "This is Fresno's Mclusky."
Devil's Deal is up for sale and streaming at Werebear's Bandcamp.