Heinrich XIII and the Devilgrass Pickers – 13: the Devil’s Dozen (Chaos Productions)
A group of good ol’ country boys from Wölfersheim, Germany, Heinrich XIII and the Devilgrass Pickers play a version of old school country music, which reflects their roots in metal and alternative music. It used to be a fairly well travelled path from punk, metal and grunge to alt. country, and it’s nearly always been a sincere transition. There maybe a little humour in their new songs, but that only mirrors classic country music in general, and there’s no doubt Heinrich and his band are serious musicians playing music they love.
Listening to “13: the Devil’s Dozen”, you wouldn’t guess their country of origin; Heinrich’s got his dark, moody twang down pat, and the musicians around him follow suit. The album arrives fully formed in the shape of “Cold Hearted Girl” a full on country hoedown, with fiddle and mandolin blazing away. “My Ride” begins like a 50-year old burn from a local Tennessee radio station, before tumbling energetically into something more contemporary – great stuff. Song titles such as “Hangover” and “Whiskey Yodel No. 2” suggest a fascination with the evils of booze, but the former is a lament, full of regret and self-recrimination. Less so, the latter.