GIG REVIEW: DEVIL YOU KNOW & ONI Live at The Ritz, Warren, MI
It’s May 4th and to those who are hip with Star Wars, May the forth be with you. The establishment held a Star Wars costume contest, so I was looking forward to seeing some people dressed up as if from a galaxy far away. After local support from the bands The Oath Lies Here, Behind the Silence and Septafoil, Oni arrived on stage. I haven’t heard of them prior to this nor could I find much online about them. So I was in the dark as to what to expect. I quickly found out as they roared into their first song with a thunderous rapture. Lead singer Jake Oni would switch styles throughout the night with death metal guttural vocals to hard rock crooning. Joe Gruelich on drums and Chase Bryant on bass guitar were excellent providing the heavy percussion for guitarists Martin Andres and Brandon White to fill out with their riffing guitars. What was unique was seeing a xylophone or xylo-synth player, John “D”. How often do you think, xylophone, now that’s heavy metal. But it works! This xylo-synth instrument adds a beautiful yet haunting sound to the band. It made me think of the nuances I heard from Type O Negative.
Having only been together since 2014, Oni has made a nice path with their self-titled debut album, ‘ONI’. The future is bright for dark days of musical mayhem from Oni.
Headlining the night was Los Angeles, California’s pride and joy, Devil You Know. Formed in 2012, this band has quickly gained traction in the metal music world, winning the Metal Hammer Golden Gods award for best new band in 2014 points to that. This is my first time seeing Devil You Know and much like the previous band, I was welcomed with thunder by John Boecklin on drums. Boecklin was a beast behind the kit all night as he plowed and mowed through the masses with his drumming. Assisting in the percussion with bass guitar and backing vocals was party animal (more on that later) Ryan Wombacher.
Leading the rhythms on guitar was Francesco Artusato who wailed and riffed like a man on a mission, a mission to rock your face off! Lead singer Howard Jones got the set started with “Consume the Damned”. The set consisted of songs from both of the Devil You Know albums, ‘The Beauty of Destruction’ (2014) and ‘They Bleed Red’ (2015). If I had my wishes, I would’ve had Jones’ microphone turned up some more as his vocals tended to get drowned out from the music. Still didn’t stop the crowd from head banging and singing along. After a song or two, Jones greeted by saying, “hello white people”. Jones is black and may have stuck out in the predominately white audience, but he was right at home amongst his people of the metal community. Jones went on to belt out more songs, “Seven Years Alone”, “Stay of Execution” and “The Way We Die” to name a few. Later in the set, bass player, Wombacher was “kidnapped” sort of speak as he was pulled back by a member of Oni and another gentleman who placed a hard hat containing two beers and attached straws onto Wombacher’s head. Meanwhile Artusato is at the forefront wailing away on guitar as Wombacher drinks the contents of his hat. Those fun moments that happen at live shows is what it’s all about. Rocking out and having a good time, a motto of life.
The set ended with “Shut It Down”, Devil You Know exited the stage but the crowd was not ready to shut it down. “One more song, one more song” was chanted by the fans in hopes for a little more. To the fans delight, Devil You Know came back out for an encore. And just like the audience, the band still had energy to burn. Boecklin remained a beast on drums that double peddle floor bass still resonates with me. Wombacher feeling looser from the beer hat still taps the bass strings with fervor. Artusato as he had all night remains a stout presence with precision guitar work. Jones thanks the crowd for a wonderful time as he jumps around and even does a running somersault across the stage before lashing into the final song.
I never did see a mosh pit full of Wookies, Ewoks and Stormtroopers, which kind of bummed me, but the crowd did mosh throughout the night. Cheers to my fellow metal heads rather they be from earth or a galaxy far away, Rock On!! Devil You Know and Oni put on a rocking display of musical execution and sometimes humorous, which is always good. Nice to see bands that really enjoy what they do, it resonates with the audience. Continued success will abound these bands.