Two Devils Will TalkSTOMP Records (CAN) / Fat Wreck Chords (US)
By Cole Faulkner
What can I say about The Real McKenzies that hasn’t been said before? The roughneck Vancouver-based crew of Celtic misfits have been an undeniable force in the global punk scene since the early 90’s and continue to build on their legacy with each passing album and release. Their latest full length, Two Devils Will Talk, continues the brash bagpipe-meets-punk-rock formula that the band remains best known for.
Paul McKenzie’s unmistakable vocal presence sounds as weathered and energetic as ever, enhanced by a rasp bestowed by a lengthy career and the passage of time. “We’ll march and we’ll never falter, side by side we’ll sing our song, let’s have a cheer for our fallen brethren, through us they will never die,” belts the band in a whiskey-drenched choral cry, reflecting The Real McKenzies’ stubborn, undying drive. “Due West” launches into a quick-landing tempo that persists through the lion’s share of Two Devils Will Talk’s. Make no mistake, Two Devils Will Talk is a quick and rambunctious beast, seldom pausing to catch its breath. “Weyburn” and “One Day” further join in on the excitement, hammering through chorus and verse with a quick-paced melodic drive that is every bit as singable as it is sonically agile. Later offerings like “Pedal,” “The Town” and “The Comeback” follow suit, with the latter trumpeting some seriously speedy riffs embodying the track’s message of resistance and longevity. In terms of outright style, the disc feels markedly more Flatfoot 56 than Flogging Molly. In other words, this time around, there is an undeniable punk-rock presence leading at the helm.
It isn’t until the hearty, wayward tune “Seafarers” that the boys embark on a mid-tempo adventure onto the high seas. A classic Real McKenzies excursion chronicling a crew narrowly defying disaster. Likewise, the nostalgic Stan Rogers Canadian acepella classic “Northwest Passage” marks a rare and powerful vocal-exclusive moment reminiscent of The Dreadnoughts, before transforming the colonial tale of “discovery” into a full-on punk tune. It’s a great rendition of the song, even if the track’s romanticized view of colonial history has long since been challenged by historical scholarship.
As always, The Real McKenzies deliver a prime example of the fun to be had in the raucous world of Celtic punk. Two Devils Will Talk reinforces that the sands of time have done little to dull The Real Mckenzies sharp edge. While the album doesn’t necessarily differentiate itself from the band’s discography, Two Devils Will Talk is a case where more of the same is more than welcome when the product is so well founded. Another worthwhile and entertaining offering by one of Celtic punk’s finest.