Bible of the Devil – Firewater at My Command

Bible of the Devil
Firewater at My Command

Before you start reading this review, understand something: Chicago’s Bible of the Devil ain’t no goddamn death metal band. Nor are they hardcore, industrial, gothic, or anything else you’ll likely associate with ‘the Dark Prince.’ But they are evil. And they play the kind of music that would have gotten you grounded as a pre-teen, when your mom would yell “TURN THAT SHIT DOWN!” and you’d tell her to fuck off and it would be worth it. If you’re sitting around waiting for whatever MTV tells you is “The Return of the Rock,” I’m here to say it never went away, and as long as Bible of the Devil keeps at it, it’s never going to go away.
Bible of the Devil has had quite an interesting history. Originally formed as a noisy metal/punk trio with just two guitars and a drummer, they came across like the Fucking Champs, only much more greasy and raw. Vocals, when they appeared, were more of an afterthought. However, over the course of two years they eventually took on a bass player, and the band mutated into something far more organic and appealing. Soon the classic rock and metal influences of their youth began to show their heads. They began to move away from flirtations with complicated time signatures and stuck with the four on the floor. The tempos were jacked up to greater levels of intensity. Singer Mark Hoffmann also began to flirt with the spirit of Bon Scott, belting his rock screams as high and as hard as he could to get above the tremendous noise produced by the foursome. Obviously, they’ve found their calling.
What Firewater at My Command accomplishes is a sort of “greatest hits” collection for the band. Some of these songs were recorded on a previous record called Guts, a decidedly low-fi record the band released soon after forming. Here, they’re given a superior treatment, as the tempos and sounds are amped up to their current level of absolute sonic depravity. They somehow fit in perfectly with the newer material, making the record diverse yet totally cohesive at the same time. Plus, all of that time in the woodshed obviously paid off: Guitarists Hoffmann and Nate Weathers pull off some stellar playing, piling on greasy leads at every turn.
They’ve obviously done their rock homework. Cuts like “The New Raw,” “Typical Chicago Jackass,” and “Asheton” are ferocious punk stompers, bringing to mind the best of Zeke and Motorhead. “Tomahawkin'” has a sort of southern rock swagger that is heard far too little these days, coming across like a sludged-out Molly Hatchet with a wailing Bon Scott vocal. Hoffman plays it smart by actually singing melodies instead of straight-up yelling, a trap much of this kind of rock rarely avoids. “Checkmate” is well informed by Black Sabbath, and is catchy as hell to boot. Also, check out the centerpiece of the album, a Melvins-esque sludge metal instrumental called “The Drug is Violence.” Quite simply, at nearly an hour in length, this thing is crammed full of good songs.
Truth be told, I’ve been checking this band out for quite a while now, and they’ve obviously won my respect. For as hard as they tour and as ripping as their live show is, they deserve more attention than they’re getting. With other raw rock like the White Stripes and the Hives getting attention, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Regardless of the current climate, however, Bible of the Devil prove that rock and roll is not dead and doesn’t need to be saved: It just needs to be played like this by more people. Pick up this record and check out what I mean.