Charm City Devils – Battles – Album Review

Charm City Devils, the Baltimore-based band responsible for electrifying the bluegrass anthem “Man of Constant Sorrow,” are back again with their third release, Battles. Available September 23rd, 2014, Battles is another winning collection of full throttle, hard as steel rock and roll that so many music fans have been searching to find.

For the uninitiated, CCD is led by John Allen on vocals, Nick Kay and Vic Karrera are on guitars, Anthony Arambula works the bass, and Jason Heiser is on drums. Joining CCD again is producer Skidd Mills who also produced earlier release, Sins. Apparently, this is a winning combination.

The CCD signature sound cleverly mixes classic hard rock and roll with a few well-placed effects to create a rawness, an edginess in the music that is both energizing and satisfying. There is nothing calm, tame or halfway about CCD, and Battles is no exception. In fact, Battles seems to feature even more aggressive rhythm work from Arambula and Heiser this time around, with the drum work and bass line distinct and clear in the mix. This driving beat is nearly hypnotic and still leaves ample room for the guitar work and riffs that fans of Kay and Karrera want to hear. Lyrically, the songs continue to celebrate the struggles and quagmires of life without ever sliding into the sticky sweet. Vocally, Allen is stretching his range and his talent, daring to broaden his vocal work, and it is paying off. CCD’s third release is strong and proves that this band has a lot to offer today’s hard rock loving listener. Battles sounds great from the studio and will definitely be a thrill ride live from the stage.

There isn’t a disappointing song on this release, from the wildness of opener “Tear it Apart” to the acoustic and sparse “Let it Go” that brings the release to a close. “Crucify,” a favorite selection of mine, features a blues groove and will have fans on their feet dancing to the infectious beat. “Shots,” a tragic tale of addiction, is powerful both lyrically and musically. “Everyday,” another personal favorite, solidifies the diversity Battles offers in both beat and vocals. “Want” is saturated with the energy of The Stones. “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” deserves a feature on Sons of Anarchy, bikes and bullets flying. In fact, someone call Kurt Sutter. “Destiny,” “Lying to Yourself,” and “Karma” give the listener a bit of breathing room and brief changes in tempo, but they never relent in intensity. “Rich and Famous” stomps and grinds with attitude galore. Just wait until the girls at the Bada Bing hear this one…

Charm City Devils have done it again with Battles. Fans will be thrilled, and newcomers will want to know everything they’ve missed so far. The cd gets better with each listen and every song seems perfect to make it onto the setlist of the next live Charm City Devils show.

Here’s a link to pre-order/ purchase Battles:

About the author

Ann James Joles

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You’ll know her when you see her – Ann is probably the only person at a live show scribbling down notes and guarding a camera case. With a long time career in higher education behind her, she is more at home at a rock show with screaming fans than in an office.