Rather than a supergroup, Kill Devil Hill is the real deal
Published: May 16, 2012
The word "supergroup" gets applied so readily and so reflexively, especially in the world of hard rock and heavy metal, that it's pretty easy to distrust instinctively. That's why Rex Brown doesn't use it.
"I hate the word 'supergroup,' because that just means a bunch of great players are getting together to mess around," said Brown, former bassist for Pantera, Down, and Crowbar. "This is more of a long-term deal — we're sticking together and making it work. The supergroup label doesn't really apply; we're a bunch of guys that have been hanging around together for a long time and playing music together."
That bunch of guys consists of Brown himself, guitarist Mark Zavon (Ratt, W.A.S.P., and 40 Cycle Hum), vocalist Dewey Bragg (Pissing Razors), and the legendary Vinny Appice, who's played with, among others, Black Sabbath (and its post-Ozzy mutation Heaven & Hell), Dio, and Rick Derringer.
Every supergroup needs an origin story, but Brown is reluctant to travel such well-trod soil, sighing, "You want the short story or the long story?" with a weariness that suggests he's told the latter version a couple of dozen times too many.
"I've been friends with [Appice] for about three years, seeing him here and there — I think I first met him when he was with Black Sabbath," Brown said. "He hooked up with Mark Zavon and started writing some tunes, and Mark brought in Dewey, the singer, and they ended up really liking him." Appice then sent Brown a tape of what they'd been working on and asked him if he'd mind playing on a couple of songs. "I said sure, of course — not knowing that I'd be in a band with one of the best drummers in the world a year and a half later. So here we are, just waiting for the album to come out."
That album is the self-titled Kill Devil Hill, due out May 28 on Steamhammer/SPV Records. It's a surprisingly tight album that largely eschews the rawer, edgier sound of some of the participant's previous bands in favor of heavy but highly melodic anthems and epics. It wouldn't be out of place in the collection of anyone who favors classic rock, Southern raunch, or straight-up riff-laden '70s arena stylings despite its leather-and-steel pedigree. "War Machine," the album opener, has some speed-metal overtones that can trick listeners, and "We're All Gonna Die" and "Time and Time Again" showcase the doomy tricks that Appice picked up in his time with Sabbath. More typical of the album's overall grooving throwback vibe are the blooze-rockin' "Strange," the strip club sing-along "Voodoo Doll," and the roaring anthem "Up in Flames." Bragg may be the least known figure in Kill Devil Hill, but his up-and-over grunge croon is perfectly suited to the material and gives the band a signature they might otherwise have lacked.
Brown concludes his origin story on a positive note.
"It's cliché to say so, but really, we just all walked into the room and set up, and it just clicked," he said. "There were already about six or seven songs ready to go, so we put down those pretty quickly, played some bullshit covers, and it just rolled together. We hit it off immediately." He's quick to assure fans that the show will consist of nearly all album tracks, though "no covers, and no bullshit." •
Kill Devil Hill feat. Adrenaline Mob
7pm Wed, May 16
1305 E Houston
> Email Leonard Pierce