'Devotion' is the first new album from Germany's Shylock since 2004's well received 'Welcome To Illusion.' That's a long time between releases for any band, but not uncommon. It seems Shylock has spent the last three years busting their asses by playing everywhere they possibly could. This can only build a tight, skillful band and hopefully plant the seeds for a great new work. Well, 'Devotion' is certainly worth the wait; I found myself liking it after a single spin. I think the fundamental reasons for this are Matthias Schenk's vocals and the strong, thoroughly consitent, melodic hard rock. At times, Schenk's vocals remind me of a coarser Jon Bon Jovi, and at other times, he seems to be merging an emo quality into his style. In the end, I simply enjoyed listening to him sing. As for the songs, they are filled with great melody and wonderful hooks; it's simply fun melodic rock.
'Devotion' clocks in at nearly an hour with fourteen tracks. This an extremely low cost-to-rock ratio that pays rich dividends. Immediately, the album kicks off with 'Eternal Life,' a solid rocker driven by a strong rhythm section. When you move into 'Things Like That,' you find that Shylock knows there melodic craft. 'Music' displays their artistic creativity with a heavy beat, unique vocals, and quirky keyboard and guitar work. 'U Feel' is simply a great melodic rock song with a memorable chorus. This is the one song that made me hear 'emo' in Schenky's vocals.
The consistency of song styling and musicianship continue with 'The Rain' and 'Ocean.' 'Castaway' precisely nails the melodic rock genre with its catchy chorus and Scorpion-like guitar riffs. 'Again,' the first of my two favorite songs, follows with Schenky sounding superb almost like John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls. You can pretty much skip over 'Hunting High and Low' and 'Fading Memory.' They're good songs and hardly fillers, but I wasn't truly thrilled. However, 'New Attraction,' my other favorite, brings you back with a stylish, moving, ballad. Schenky's vocals are passionate and smooth, Johannes Löhr's guitar singing sweetly. The album is rounded out by three more straight melodic rockers. The finale, 'Farewell (To The Champion),' is tribute to MTM Music cofounder, football player Thomas Hässler.
Shylock, for the most part, has been flying under my radar. I should have checked them out a long time ago. 'Devotion' is a terrific album of wonderful melodic hard rock. Yeah, some would say that it's ordinary. But I think not. What is extraordinary is that Shylock knows how to consistently craft a fine melodic rock song. These boys have a bright future if they can maintain this level of quality. Highly recommended.
- Craig Hartranft
Shylock's 'Devotion' is an excellent offering of fine melodic hard rock. This album has everything that you love about this genre: great melody, clever hooks, fine guitar licks, and catchy choruses. Check out 'U Feel,' 'Again,' and 'Castaway,' all fine songs.