Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle review (Mongrel Records 2020)

The new album from Ruff Majik has the most direct Rock and Roll feel of their work to date.

The musicians credited on The Devil’s Cattle are Evert Snyman (guitar, bass, vocals, percussion, drums, and piano) and Johni Holiday (guitar, bass, and vocals), with Timothy Edwards and Xan Swart adding drums, Christiaan Van Reenen making an appearance on keyboards, and additional vocals by Vincent Houde. On their Bandcamp page, the creation of the new album is explained this way: “The Devils Cattle was written between Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bourlon, Berlin, and Oyster Bay in 2019, whilst Johni Holiday and [company] were hopping between locations during a very busy year.” The press materials state Ruff Majik is from South Africa, Bandcamp has them headquartered in Cottbus, Germany, and clearly they get around a lot during the creative process. Wherever in the world they might be from, at, or going to, it is the music that matters.

My first thought listening to this album was it made me of a heavy metal version of the White Stripes. The vocals and affectation are reminiscent of Jack White, and the music does have hints in that direction but the divergences are far greater than the confluences. The opening song is a ripper with a message that resonates, “All You Need Is Speed.” In the very next song, the talk-in sets the stage for a tale of woe in “Swine Tooth Grin,” and the gravity of the guitar riffs match the sentiment of the lyrics precisely. Each new track is a turn and a twist.

The album is long and expresses a variety of sentiments and stylistic careening during its course. I love the guitars which are both a comfort and a threat, and so are the vocals and, separately, the lyrics. Sometimes it feels like free association but not improvisation. The compositions have an intentionality that confounds the notion of haphazardry. Creativity lives a big life in this album, and it is completely different to anything else I have heard this year. Recommended.

The Devil’s Cattle is out now from Mongrel Records and getable through Bandcamp.


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Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle review (Mongrel Records 2020)