Devotion - Bastard Son of Affluence Blues (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Bastard Son of Affluence Blues (2009)


Mark Palm was the frontman for PacNorthwest hardcore unit Go It Alone, so it makes sense that his newest project, Devotion, largely picks up where that band left off, specifically 2007's Histories.

Palm plays everything on this full-length effort save drums and percussion, and therefore it really seems to be his focused, sole vision for what a 44-minute, semi-progressive hardcore album should sound like. Palm keeps things at a mid-paced tilt, gravelly yelling over thumping, ever-changing chords and incorporating a little more influence from grunge and psychedelic rock and less from '90s youth crew.

It might be unfair to compare since this album's recording precedes it by about a year, but moments on here warrant mentioning Blacklisted's polarizing No One Deserves to Be Here More Than Me as a reference point: Palm uses that Southern-sounding stress on his yell sometimes; the slow mid-album dirge, "The Only Way" uses creative guitar layering and a steady tambourine that, until the vocals kick in, seriously resembles Nirvana; that similarity becomes a little more obvious, as the vocals and slower movements in "Needle Full of Liquid Pain" and "Out of Body" will attest to.

Granted, those abovementioned influences sometimes lead Palm to get overly wanky with the guitar riffs. The title track packs as much aggression into a medium tempo as possible, but sandwiches those groove-oriented fits of release between riffs that get a little ridiculous with what resemble compressed solos. Palm's better when he mixes up the tones and techniques, like with the more jaunty, hardcore-leaning "Neon Dream."

A strong aesthetic was always a focal point for GIA, and it continues with Bastard Son of Affluence Blues. The CD art merely includes some black text printed directly onto the CD, spelling out the track listing, and a few border logos, reminding me of a major label release from the '80s.

Overall, this album is definitely long, even for what it's going for, but it definitely has some engaging moments on it. Palm's got something interesting going on here for sure; maybe once the fat is trimmed and the dynamics are made stronger it'll really come out well-rounded, cohesive and effective.

Bastard Son of Affluence Blues
Deep Sleep
album montage


DEVOTION-Bastard Son of Affluence Blues from Amir Aghelnejad on Vimeo.