Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Devil Inside: 36 Karat / A Retrospective Review

Self proclaimed Ghetto Metal from Kreuzberg, Berlin. Lyrics in German and Turkish. A record called "36 Karat"... Brilliant. This album is awesome in so many ways, I don't even know where to begin. Oh wait, I do...

I remember first hearing about this band sometime in early 2002, I don't know who told me about them but I do remember Rob from Born From Pain wearing one of their shirts (black logo printed on a black shirt - good style) and when we discussed the shirt (I've always loved shirt talk) I could tell he was excited about the band. A couple of months after that my old band played the same fest as them somewhere in Germany. Obviously I had to see what was going on. They went on somewhere in the middle of a 12 band marathon and just walked on stage like they were headlining and/or owned the place. I loved that. An obnoxious attitude and a lot of talking and swearing in German, which was fine by me because once they started playing it was like the whole place was getting levelled. Heavy as hell, a massive sound, sick groove and Merauder vibes all over the place. I turned into a fan there and then and picked up this CD soon after. Listened to it a lot, even though all my friends seemed to hate it. I still do. Somewhere in 2003, around the summer, Rise And Fall played one of it's earlier shows with Devil Inside in Tielt, Belgium. The show wasn't all that spectacular but I was beyond excited to finally see Devil Inside again and they did not disappoint... They had a new demo with them that they were selling and appearantly they were in the middle of changing their name to Jaylan. An alternative version of that demo (re-recorded vocals and a different mix I believe) later came out as a Jaylan CDEP called "Stress" on Superhero Records, a small label from Berlin. I strongly recommend you to hunt down that record, that is after you've picked up the subject at hand here: Devil Inside's "36 Karat" CD on Alveran Records...

The original version of this CD came out as a midprice type of thing, as it only contained 6 songs. The fact that those 6 songs blow away mostly anything on the Alveran label didn't even seem to matter. Seeing that there was quite a bit of hype around the band at the time, the CD did well and was soon re-released as a full CD, with 2 bonus tracks (more about those 2 tracks later on). The line up on this record was the following: Devrim - lead vocals, Volkan - bass, David - drums, Tamer - guitar, Marcus - guitar and vocals. Tamer is the only one out of all these dudes that I've ever talked to, he was also the one that wrote all the music on this record so I guess it is safe to say I have talked to a genius in my lifetime. Super nice dude. Other than that I know drummer David works for M.A.D. Tourbooking and used to drum in the semi-legendary German hardcore outfit Charley's War. Another interesting thing to note is that both Marcus and Tamer were part of the original line up of World Collapse. Obviously most (if not all) of these dudes were also in Jaylan after the name change, although Jaylan went through a few line up changes too, from what I've heard. According to the band, the name change from Devil Inside to Jaylan happened because Intel was giving them a hard time. Intel Inside, see? Pretty crazy. On to what really matters though...

How can a record sung in languages I don't even speak and hardly understand be so fuckin' awesome and catchy? How incredibly heavy and well produced does this record sound? Why didn't this band become bigger than Hatebreed? Questions like those run through my mind every time I listen to "36 Karat". Opening track "Sohne Der Macht" is one of those songs that was destined to be the opening song. It kicks in with unrelenting force. A vulgar display of power if there ever was one. It thrives on brutal riffs, it's full of groove and stylistically it's somewhere inbetween Merauder and Machine Head. Though my German is pretty poor, I seem to gather that this song deals with the importance of friendship and family ties. I love this part: "Auge um auge, mann gegen mann, doch unser gesetz funktioniert anders, weil die familie unser stamm ist und wir die krieger sind!". Babelfish tells me that means "Eye around eye, man against man, but our law functions differently, because the family is our trunk and we are the krieger". Babelfish isn't perfect but I guess you get the gist of it. Right after "Sohne Der Macht" it is time for the epic "Nur Noch Tage", with it's Slayer-esque intro and Biohazard-ish groove breakdown with rap-styled vocals. Probably the most epic and metal song on "36 Karat".

"Ich War, Ich Bin, Ich Werde Sein" is probably my favourite song here. It is simply irresistable with it's fast paced Cro-Mags "Alpha-Omega" style riffing and awesome melodic vocals. At times you'd swear this song has Harley singing in German. When things break down about halfway through the song and you get to the "Meine Blicke Sind Hier! Meine Blicke Sind Da!" part, you'll be singing along no matter what age, creed or religion. So good. The next song, "Kampfer" ("Fighter" in English), is full on Merauder worship and I seriously doubt the mental health of anyone who has issues with that when it's done this well. To make things even more interesting/confusing, this song features guest vocals by Al Barr of The Dropkick Murphys. Pretty bizarre but then again I'm guessing this can be explained by drummer David's work for M.A.D. It's funny 'cause it took me forever to figure out which part Al was singing since I assumed he'd be singing in English. He wasn't. Dudes made him sing in German which was makes this guest appearance even better/weirder.

"Augenblick" is the song that makes me doubt whether or not "Ich War, Ich Bin, Ich Werde Sein" is my favourite track or not. I'm tempted to take the easy way out for now and say they're equally good. This song makes me wish I could speak Turkish. It's a song so simple in structure, yet so effective. It doesn't have a mosh part or anything like that and is definitely the most laid back song on this record. The vocals in Turkish have a mesmerizing, enchanting quality to them and their melody is bound to stick in your head for days. After this somewhat more introspective, emotional song it is time for more full on chugging and grooving with "Arktis", the last "real" song before the bonus tracks kick in. This is where things get crazy. The first bonus track features Jamey Hatebreed, screaming (rapping?) over a dark, eerie beat. "All the way from Connecticut to Berlin, Hatebreed and Devil Inside, here we go". Unlike Al Barr, Jamey sticks to English. One can only wonder... The song's chorus, "Every move I make brings me one step closer to hell", sure is catchy but I am not sure if I will ever completely understand what they were trying to do with this song. The second bonus track is another hip hop track with lyrics in German and English. I figure they had another guest do the lyrics in English, but I don't know who that would be. Either way, the bonus tracks are an interesting addition but obviously it's all about the 6 original tracks on this record.

Lay-out wise I think this record looks pretty ill as well. I could've done without the pictures of the van and the drumpedal, but I'm digging the individual member shots mixed with medieval woodcuts and the more artistic post modern/linear approach. As for the cover, it's awesome. You may not know what to make of it at first, but when you've heard the record it makes sense.

That about wraps it up. If I've convinced anyone to check this record out, I can tell you that right now it is on sale in the Alveran Webstore ( 1.99 Euro for a somewhat overlooked/cult Ghetto Metal classic, that seems like a solid deal to me. Other than that I recently checked the Jaylan Myspace page ( and noticed they'd changed their name back to Devil Inside and the line up is the exact same one as on "36 Karat". I'm excited to see whatever will come of that. You can also head to that Myspace page to check out a few songs off this record. You heard it here. Enjoy.

P.S. Thanks to Rob for the additional info and corrections.