Talk about a power trio. Devil's Brigade is the side project of Rancid and Operation Ivy bassist Matt Freeman, and features Tim Armstrong (frontman for Rancid and Op Ivy), plus drummer DJ Bonebrake of X and The Knitters. That lineup alone is enough to make anyone weaned on And Out Come the Wolves burst into wild cheers.
On the band's eponymous debut full-length, you can still hear the punk-infused, fast-paced riffs from those previous bands, but instead of roots reggae woven into the mix, Devil's Brigade is cradled in rockabilly boisterousness. In past bands, Freeman's provided backup vocals with an occasional stab at lead. On this effort, his raspy vocals prove he's captain of the ship, delivering magnetism akin to Mike Ness of Social Distortion, but with an even grungier, authentic feel.
"I'm Movin' Through" pummels like a furious battering ram and "My Own Man" features Freeman's characteristic bass line melodies twisted into the kind of hardcore riffs that push a pit to fever pitch.
But it's the rowdy, mandolin-filled, rockabilly tunes like "Half Way to Hell" that make it sweet. I love that these guys are still playing, and that, unlike so many washed up bands, they're game for new terrain.