Stoner to the core, wielding riffs like the hammers of Thor and trading in soulful grooves big enough to drive semis through, Indianapolis's DEVIL TO PAY make a big leap forward on this, their second album. Not content to mimic the genre's conventions, the band wander a little beyond the standard fuzz-rock clichés, while retaining the stuff we like about it (gargantuan guitar tone, massive low end, primal yowl vocals).
For the most part, DEVIL TO PAY keep things slower and doomier, maintaining a catchy groove as they lurch through dynamic riff-rockers like "Kill Everything" and the monstrous "Swallow the Fish". Mainman Steve Janiak has a melodic howl that recalls John Garcia (KYUSS) and early, drugged-up Steven Tyler duking it out in 1989-era Seattle. On more standard fare, like the slow and pulverizing "The Mountain Comes To Me", they wring maximum pathos from some deceptively simple riffing, hammering home the song with leaden doom blooze and weighty, agonized vocals. "Ripped From Your Womb" may borrow a little from CORROSION OF CONFORMITY mega-riff "Heaven's Not Overflowing", but its head-shaking midtempo boogie shuffle is undeniably rockin'.
But check out the positively funky "A King's Bounty" for a bold, confident vocal line that transcends the whole "stoner rock" thing pretty handily. The riffs are there, sure, but it's that soaring chorus that'll be stuck in your head for weeks. This song leaves some nice breathing room, too, a classic case of knowing when not to play, giving drummer Chad Prifogle a little space for his efficient groove.
While DEVIL TO PAY are enjoyable even when mining familiar ground, it's songs like this that point to a bright and unrestricted future for the band. Fans of everyone from CROWBAR to KYUSS to early-to-mid SOUNDGARDEN will dig the hell out of what these guys are doing. "Cash Is King" is a snapshot of a band, already really, really good at what they do, taking their first confident steps out from under the shadow of their influences and realizing that the sky's the limit. Good, satisfying stick-to-the-ribs riff rock, well worth your time.