For the most part, The Devil and the Almighty Blues’ third full-length album seems to be business as usual. The two-year release cycle has become a secured pattern and Tre fits right in with its numeric title and six song track listing. It even echoes 2017’s II by starting off with its longest track; “Salt the Earth” doesn’t have any danceable rhythms compared to “These are Old Hands,” but its slow buildup works just as well to establish the band’s signature desert blues style.
But once you get to the shorter songs, it becomes clear that Tre isn’t interested in completely retreading formula. “One for Sorrow” introduces a spiritual undercurrent as the band’s usual twangy guitar leads and fuzzed out vocals are occasionally intercepted by gospel backing and exotic percussion. These elements are reintroduced toward the end of the album on “No Man’s Land,” giving a playful bent to its already upbeat riff set.
Fortunately, the band doesn’t need too many extra frills to give us engaging songs. “Lay Down” alternates between steadily chugging verses and held out lamenting bridges, “Heart of the Mountain” goes into some slowed down introspection, and the relatably titled “Time Ruins Everything” offers the album’s most aggressive performances. The moods aren’t quite as varied or thematic as they were on II, but every song does a splendid job of offering a distinct flavor while servicing the greater whole. Every Almighty Blues album is clearly intended to be listened in full and this is surely no exception.
It’s difficult to compare The Devil and the Almighty Blues’ albums when they’re all at such a high-quality benchmark, but Tre is another fantastic addition to the Norwegians’ canon. While the overall presentation is right in line with its predecessors, the smooth incorporation of outside elements makes one hope for even more of it in the near future. There are plenty of bands out there performing these sorts of retro blues jams, but The Devil and the Almighty Blues just may be the best at it.
“Heart of the Mountain”
“No Man’s Land”