Deep blue streaks across the open sky, the woods in the distance holler in an otherworldly tongue, and the music plays the soundtrack to an escape from the mania of modern living. It’s been your most peaceful sleep in as long as you can remember, and the air is fresher than you remember. You can feel the natural vibrations of the land with your ear to the ground and your hand raised in the air. It’s days like these you are glad to still fill your lungs with oxygen, to feel the dirt between your hands and feet, and though you’re alone you certainly do not feel it. Such emotions run through you as the six-track third album from Norway’s The Devil and the Almighty Blues – simply titled Tre – rises from the depths of the mountain and paints the world in golden yet distinctly earthen hues.
The years since the release of their 2015 self-titled album have been favourably on the band’s side, with II being a marked progression into sultry blues territory and thus pushed the band away from any overt stoner rock territory. And whilst listening to Tre comes as an organic evolution in their sound one is constantly in awe that this is the same band. The album is as stripped back as possible yet never loses any of their signature power; it’s a bass-heavy rumble into untouched climes, an outstretched hand to whichever deity, a wade through the bluesiest marshes. There is so much raw emotion here it spills on out into the world beyond their own and though it’s certainly focused it meanders its way to its destination, allowing itself to climb to previously unreachable heights and take a lungfull of its air.
A collection of some of the finest songs The Devil and the Almighty Blues have ever conjured, the record kicks off with the sprawling epic ‘Salt the Earth’, a song with layers so intricate you’d think they were woven with the very fabric of the earth; it’s simple yet eloquent chorus is one which will linger in your mind for long after the album closes. Soulful yet surprisingly thunderous, it sets the tone for what’s to come: the delta blues of ‘One for Sorrow’ and the punchy rhythms of ‘Lay It Down’ follow suit, building on memorable motifs with a wondrously wild and organic touch, using such simple hooks to great effect. Simultaneously gliding high above and riding the rapids below ‘Heart of the Mountain’ slowly burns its intense fire roaring into its finale. before riding a heavier groove in ‘No Man’s Land’. Closing on a high with a smouldering ‘Time Ruins Everything’, Tre infinitely burns itself forever in the minds and souls of all those who hear it, leaving a legacy of class in its wake.
Few bands take giants leaps with the quality of their music as much as The Devil and the Almighty Blues has done, their journey a searing ascent into the night sky without ever losing itself. No doubt placing itself against the finest records of the year so far, Tre is simple in its execution and bold and powerful in its very being. As organic as it is heavy and crooning, it fully separates itself from an already splendorous pack of releases in a month which has raised the bar for many to come. Evoking a rough exterior it’s music guides you along your journey away from a civilisation hellbent on spiralling into madness; The Devil and the Almighty Blues have reminded us to take a step back and reconsider the trajectory your peers are taking.