There is a very good chance that seeing those six words will elicit some sort of response inside of you, even if you have not seen The Witcher on Netflix ( and if you haven’t, why not?). Be it good or bad there is no denying that the role of Jaskier, the Bard who wants to be Geralt’s (Henry Cavill) friend no matter what, has brought Joey Batey a lot of media and fan attention, and very well deserved attention it is.
Back in 2016, Batey released an album called Love Run with his collaborator and co-conspirator, Madeleine Hyland, known for being a part of Dexy’s Midnight Runners from 2011 to 2014. With both Batey and Hyland having roots in the dramatic, the band, called The Amazing Devil, was equally so. Performing under the stage personas of The Blue Furious Boy and Scarlet Scarlet, and masterfully melding the musical genres of Folk and Rock, Love Run was an extraordinary volume of work.
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For those who have been following the band since the beginning, the wait for their second album, The Horror and the Wild, would be a long one and for those who might have recently discovered them because of The Witcher, February 2020 could not come fast enough. We were tantalised with some sneak video peeks from the website For Folks Sake, which previewed three of the new songs being performed live in the woods, but when February arrived there was no immediate sign of when the new album would drop.
Given the theatrical nature of the band perhaps we all should have guessed that The Horror and the Wild would not land until the 29th of the month. The album appearing on the leap day was just perfect, but was it worth the wait? Most definitely so.
Running at nine tracks long the album is a masterpiece made up of finely woven melodies and beautiful lyrics that evoke emotions in the listener. The majority of songs focus on relationships, both good and bad, of the highs and lows and the bittersweet moments, all of which allow for personal interpretation. If anything, each song is a journey with different landmarks for each listener.
Notable tracks include the opener, ‘The Rockrose and the Thistle’, and letting Batey showcase just how good his voice sounds when stripped back and free from any instruments. Hyland’s voice layers seamlessly with Batey’s throughout until his vanishes and only hers remains. It is a quieter introduction to the album, but not less powerful, and it sets up what is still to come.
‘Wild Blue Yonder’ could be the closest to being described as a pop track, in a similar way that ‘Pruning Shears’ from their first album was, and could easily be the one to showcase the band on radio… assuming they were okay with the bleeping of the one pesky expletive. That’s one of the great things about this band though, none of their lyrics feels out of place or unwarranted and they are presented so unapologetically. The words flow so naturally and they mark Batey as a very skilled songwriter.
‘Marbles’ is a bittersweet song which could easily bring tears to the eyes of anyone listening, but to any whom the lyrics resonate with it will reduce them to floods. It is a painful and raw song, but so beautifully inlaid with humour.
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Rounding out the album is ‘Battle Cries’, and the best was certainly saved for last. A song of a failed relationship told by both sides, but utilising a technique that Batey and Hyland excel at. They both sing their own verses that overlay the other’s, much like when a couple are arguing and needing to be heard over the other, but you’re still able to hear what they are saying. Separately the two of them have sublime voices but when they sing like this it takes things to a stunning new level. The music in ‘Battle Cries’ builds and builds as the argument it depicts barrels towards its end and it’s a song that demands to be played as loudly as you can get away with. It is a phenomenal track and will remain a firm favourite when thinking of The Amazing Devil.
The Amazing Devil are modern day bards; they have a sound that could easily be imagined as taking place in a medieval or fantastical court but their lyrics are very modern. It makes for a truly unique and timeless quality that continues to go from strength to strength. The Amazing Devil are definitely a band to keep an eye on and we cannot wait to see what will come next.
The Horror and the Wild is currently only available to buy from the website Bandcamp, with the band promising that all money made will get ploughed straight back into the next album, where it is still sat comfortably as one of the top selling on the front page. It will be released on other streaming services eventually, but do not hold yourself back. Go and pick this up now, you will not regret it. If we are lucky a tour will hopefully follow, but we will have to see, given that it is likely Batey will be back filming the second season of The Witcher soon enough.