We recently reviewed a gig by Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers. The support act on that night were local (to Brighton) psychobilly band The Devil Wrays. Following is a more comprehensive piece about this band, written by Luke Randall.

Every few years Psychobilly cranes its heavily tattooed neck above the radar to reaffirm itself as one of the great-lost British subcultures.

Brighton’s Devil Wrays are assisting to reanimate the genre, as their solid debut release Hard Times proves.

In fine Psychobilly tradition, the boys take the Rockabilly template and violate it for the pedants and purists with some strictly venal punk rock attitude.

Visually, the Devil Wrays look as if they’ve just ended a shift manning the Waltzers at some edgy 50s fairground.

Quiffed and luridly inked, they give off a morose gang vibe: one of flick-combs, Brylcream and Johnson Leathers.

Similarly, the songs on album are sonically uniform, but the better debuts usually are when a group is establishing their motif sound: think of the first Ramones, Meteors and Heartbreaker’s releases.

Their sound is relentless, cold”“hearted, and powered by a pugilistic rhythm section.
Guitarists Zac and Iain scythe Gillette-sharp guitar work with fuck-all frills in tow.

The songs tread a thin line of suppressed violence, which never quite spills over into the threat that’s intoned: the inherent menace is all the more effective for this.

Singer and double bassist Jim, laments everyman themes; from the grind of struggling to stay afloat on too few quid and being done over by your ex.

On stage they rock like an underfed pit-bull in search of its next meal.

Jim cleaving at his double bass as if it’s the carcasses he chops and primes in his day job as head butcher, drummer Dom knocking seven shades out of his kit.

The band has supported a number of Psychobilly/Rockabilly luminaries, among them; Demented are Go, Coffin Nails, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers and Graveyard Johnnys; and have a couple of Northampton’s psycho festival, Bedlam Breakout under their belt.

Hard Times is available now on Bristol’s home of all things rocking, Western Star, and well worth the damage.

All words Luke Randall. More of Luke’s writing can be read here.

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