Wednesday, 17 May 2017

New Device's 'Coming Home' - EP Review

Just over a year since their last release, New Device are back with their second EP Coming Home. January last year saw the release of Devils on the Run (which I reviewed here), their first EP in their then nine year career. It is amazing to think that 2017 will see the band celebrating their tenth anniversary! Having formed in 2007 during a time when hard rock music was starting to have a bit of a resurgence, New Device found themselves up against a lot of competition. I was growing up and discovering music around the same time and the likes of Heaven's Basement, theFALLEN, Glamour of the Kill, Dear Superstar, and others were really exciting. I loved all the classic rock bands, but it was great to have a new generation of bands to call my own. New Device were part of that troupe, but they went a little under the radar for me at the time and it has only been in the past couple of years that I have really given them a proper re-evaluation. Sadly, many of the late 2000s hard rock bands are no more, but New Device have bucked the trend and seem to be on a real creative streak of late. Their 2009 debut album Takin' Over was well received, but numerous line-up changes definitely cost the band momentum. Only frontman Daniel Leigh and drummer Greg 'Rozzy' Ison remain from the line-up that wrote and recorded Takin' Over, and it would be four long years before New Device would release any new music. Here We Stand finally saw the light of day in 2013, and introduced the band's now-core line-up of Leigh, Ison, guitarist Matt Mallery, and bassist Nick Hughes. A couple of other guitarists have come and gone in the intervening period but, with the band now slimmed down to a four-piece, New Device seems to have a stable line-up. A live album Takin' Over London, which was recorded in 2014, was released in 2015 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the band's debut album, and since then New Device have been looking forward. A successful Pledge campaign allowed the band to record Devils on the Run, which was stylistically very similar to Here We Stand, and that momentum has been carried forward to create Coming Home, the band's first all-acoustic release. Naturally, given the stripped-back nature of the EP, Coming Home sounds quite different to anything New Device has done before. Most of the five new songs that make up the bulk of this release are on the slower, ballad-y end of the spectrum, which is probably unsurprising. Those fearing that Coming Home might be somewhat of a tame effort as a result need not worry however as the songwriting style is still very much that of Leigh's usual fare and the songs here are strong and work well as a collection. The physical edition of Coming Home also comes with two bonus tracks in the form of acoustic versions of On Your Knees (from Here We Stand) and Heaven Knows (from Takin' Over) which helps to add value for money when purchasing the CD and gives these fan-favourite songs new twists.

The EP opens with Everything, a delicate ballad which shows a softer side of Leigh's vocals to what he usually displays. It opens with just vocals and a single acoustic guitar, but it does build up into a full band arrangement in time with some sparse drumming and extra layers of guitar. Due to the stripped back nature of the song, and indeed the EP as a whole, the simple arrangements allow the melodies to really breathe. This song in particular is built around a really strong vocal performance, which is helped by some subtle harmonies in the choruses, and shows that Leigh is an emotional and versatile vocalist. I Miss You opens in a similar way, but the addition of some delicate piano lines really helps the song to stand out and add depth to the overall feel. Leigh's uses a slightly lower register in his voice on this song, and it helps to add a darker vibe throughout, which is helped by some prominent bass playing from Hughes and the minor acoustic guitar arpeggios. This slightly darker feel really helps the song to stand out and makes it one of the instantly memorable pieces on offer here. The EP's title track has some delicate string arrangements throughout, which helps to create somewhat of a dramatic feel despite the sparse, acoustic arrangement. What New Device has done with this song, and the entire EP, is show what some restraint can really do. All too often bands are intent on packing as much as they can into a song and some of the basic melodies can get lost. This is not the case here. Collide is my favourite song on this EP, with a really strong chorus with a really emotional vocal delivery from Leigh which seems him hit some quite high notes above a gorgeous guitar melody. This is a song that I could really see working well as a full band arrangement, especially with the wordless gang-vocal section part-way through that would really whip up a storm live. The song works fantastically in this acoustic arrangement however and in my opinion is the centrepiece of this little collection. On the Wind is the last of the five new songs here, and is another slower song but with a slightly funky overall feel with a tight drum performance and lots of little bursts of bluesy lead guitar from Mallery. This is another song that would really work well with a full rock arrangement, especially with all the lead guitar parts, but it closes out the new material here perfectly. As mentioned above, there are two bonus tracks on the CD which help to bulk out the physical release. Both versions are enjoyable, but probably not as good as their full electric counterparts. Overall, New Device have shown a new side to their songwriting and style with Coming Home and it is a welcome addition to their growing and impressive discography.

The EP was released on 21st April 2017 via ND Records.

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