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AAA Music | 17 October 2019

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THE SEA KINGS – Woke in the Devil’s Arms

| On 28, Aug 2014

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Woke up in Devil’s Arms is the debut album from Glaswegian rockers The Sea Kings following on from their EP Some Dark Matters. The album fails to settle on a specific genre but triumphantly combines influences from numerous genres such as rock and roll, blues, gothic, new wave and country. The result is a unique collection of songs shrouded in a subtle darkness.

‘Woke in the Devi’s Arms’ opens the album with a percussive, rock and roll and blues influenced riff. The relentless thud of the drums and the raucous vocals of Brian Canning move the track forward and a surge of energy in the chorus lifts the song to new heights. The addition of an ominous piano is in the breakdown is used to great effect. ‘Moonlit Range’ is a delicate track which is veiled in an eerie ambiance that is heightened by the use of the organ. A grimy and whining guitar solo supported by a saloon style piano instrumental asserts itself into the track and sets the song in the classic rock and roll genre. This saloon style honkey tonk western sound is reminiscent of The Smiths and continues through to ‘Night of Broken Glass’ which is followed by the indie and pop infused ‘Bible John’. The track gives way to a smooth and groovy bass line and dance rhythms. The lyrics “I never stood a chance when you took me out of here” take a new meaning when accompanied by the disturbing music video which takes on some dark matters while the song remains persistently light hearted with some great pop beats.

‘Have You Not Hurt Me Enough’ sits nicely in the middle of the album. It is a highly expressive rock and roll ballad that takes on some country influences in the chorus demonstrating the diversity of The Sea Kings that is concluded with a massive wave of pure fuzz. The raspy vocals of Canning sound beautifully expressive in ‘Is Paris Burning?’ and show their powerful potential in ‘Scarecrows’, competing with soaring electric guitars and pulsating bass line. The mood shifts with the soft piano intro of ‘Church and State’, that develops smoothly into a rock and roll ballad that winds down beautifully to a close.  The album closer ‘Across the Coals’ opens with a well placed spaghetti western sounding intro over which Canning sings most poignantly, “There’s a lake near my house where people go to die, I’ve never stopped to ask them why”. There is a ghostly ambiance that drones over the track which is perhaps the strongest on the album.

Woke up in Devil’s Arms moves along steadily from track to track with high points including ‘Bible John’ and the beautifully eerie ‘Across the Coals’. It does however seem directionless at times and lacks a sort of spark or energy in parts. Nonetheless it makes for an interesting listen with some well written songs and beautifully poignant lyrics.

Shane O’Neill