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Devildriver | ‘Winter Kills’

Dez Fafara's transformation from one of the most wretched examples of Nu Metal to acceptable veteran rocker is one of those things that I dont quite understand.

What can I say, I bear grudges. Nu Metal was one of the biggest in many metallers' musical life.

Having very consciously steered away from almost everything related to that tawdry phase has meant almost completely missing the development of bands like DevilDriver.

What is clear right from the opening bars of this pretty terse slab of mainstream metal is that wee Dez has almost completely cleansed his conscience as far as almost destroying heavy metal goes. It's really bloody good, and more to the point, it's really serious stuff.

Let's take a track like 'Curses And Epitaphs'. It opens with a massively brooding riff, full of darkly murmuring guitar worthy of either Paradise Lost or Gojira. You wouldn't blink if it was on the next record produced by either band.

Granted of course it goes into Modern Metal 101 vocals, but those riffs are rock solid. The drums open up into a thunderous amount of double kick to lock it all down not far afterward. Dark, heavy and real.

'Carings Overkill' is similarly punishing. Again, that double kick is absolutely heaving, and really lends this track such a solid base to develop on. Another dark track, this one has a tasteful solo that helps it all along as well.

The simplistic chug of the post Nu Metal world unfortunately does creep in at points, albeit with surprising rarity. To that end, 'Tripping Over Tombstones' feels a bit samey and underdeveloped, a track generating more heat than light.

The lead track 'Ruthless' is guilty of a bit of populist laziness as well.

Interestingly though, 'Sail', with it's pronounced lilt and opening keyboard texture recalls Type O Negative fondly. I certainly didnt expect that. It strives toward the epic, and though never quite reaches that point, is a pretty good stab at greatness.

There is worth in almost every track in here. I wouldnt have credited it before listening, given the band's provenance. If any other name was on this tin however, I'd probably be hopping with approval.

It sits at the apex of where modern mainstream metal is currently at; literally one step below Gojira in terms of heaviness and indeed mood. That's a pretty good place to be.

The fact is that it's also crushingly heavy in parts, down to the lock tight rhythm section which frequently brings out the fucking boulders.

I'd have never thought it, but there it is. Check it out – you'll likely be pleasantly surprised.

4.2 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 22/09/13

  1. Really not arsed listening to this. What I got from that review is that there is double bass and it’s heavy. Is that not basically the only argument fans of Slipknot come out with in their defence? I just really find it hard to muster any sort of enthusiasm for anything this man does in his quest to become Phil Anselmo.

  2. Also, when Nu Metal comes back into fashion this knob will be running after that bandwagon too.

  3. In many ways, the whole nu metal revival has already started but hasn’t kicked off completely (thankfully). Coal Chamber are active again and to Dez’s credit he’s actually shook off a lot of the stigma from that band so why he would perform with the band again is beyond me but if there’s a revival to get involved with, eh?

    As for DevilDriver, I haven’t listened to them properly since The Last Kind Words in 2007, which to be fair was a solid album, at least that’s what I thought at the time, so no idea if it’s held up since.

  4. A massive problem for me with the more mainstream end of extreme metal is that it seems to be all about impact. And instant sugar rush of heaviness that doesn’t really seem to have anything behind that. I think I’d personally get more enjoyment out of listening to the more overtly poppy end of the spectrum than something that is an wishy washy facsimile of extremity. I get why it would appeal to teens as we’ve all been there so as a gateway band this sort of stuff has a place. I’d just question its substance.

  5. Black Shepherd Carnage Says:

    Are you saying it would seem like being extreme is just a mental crutch to cover up for those who are completely out of touch?

    At least 3/5 should have been knocked off the score for that video alone.

  6. So it seems.

    But what I’m saying is that this album HAS substance. And I dont even like the style. The melodies and progressions are very well placed for the most part, it’s very heavy, and it sounds like the product of a bunch of guys very into what they’re doing. So credit where it’s due basically.

    And yes, the video hurts to watch.

  7. I think Dez Fafara lacks credibility. That would always mar my enjoyment of anything he touches. Of course this stuff is heavy, melodic and METAL!!! Sure metal is cool again. When grunge comes back he’ll be poking his thumbs through his jumper sleeves and acting all victimised. What I’m saying ultimately is that with the volume of credible, exciting metal being made nowadays anyone who is already clued in will probably have no reason to check this out. Youngsters may well be another story.

  8. Black Shepherd Carnage Says:

    Youngsters and Yanksters.

    “Don’t wish your life away!
    If you think I give a fuck!
    Better think again, good luck!
    Disconnected, disconnect you!
    Eyes on fire on you!
    If you think I give a fuck you better think again, good luck
    Disconnected, disconnect you!”

    This man is 47 years old. 47. The thing is that over the pond they lap this shit up.

  9. Well there you go. It’s hard to consider the man an artist on any level. He surrounds himself with talent, or whoever is adequate at playing whichever style is currently en vogue and barks that sort of nonsense over it. I just don’t get how anyone who knows a bit about the underground could genuinely derive any excitement from a band like this.

  10. By listening to the music, basically – which is ultimately what matters.

  11. connorputrefy Says:

    Words cant describe how crap this band is. Ive hated them from day1. Granted the track sounds “ok” but the fact that Coal Chamber have reformed and are actively playing shows again really removes any saving grace from this band. Horseshit

  12. I had no idea CC had reformed. Obviously a musical nightmare in the making.

    However what I would say is, if you see a full copy of this floating around somewhere, listen over it. It is literally nowhere near as bad as you’d think, and in fact, is pretty solid.

  13. that track sounds like second rate Killswitch Engage cast-offs. Dez is a talentless hack. How two of his bands have “made it” and why anyone would give him the time of day after Coal Chamber is beyond me… I thought they were shite at Rottfest, and have never looked back.

    For me, Fafara is a hugely representative of whats been, and persists to be, wrong in Metal since the late 90s.

  14. open face sugery Says:

    That song is fuckin appalling.

  15. That song is utter gash.

  16. Angel of Debt Says:

    Sounds like everything they’ve put out over the last 7 or 8 years. Deffo one of the best mainstream bands in my opinion.

    Regarding the lack of credibility, well its not a flash in the pan, as I said they’ve been on the go 7/8 years at least and this must be their 5th album. I think they’re just enjoying playing a bit of metal.

  17. What is the story with the video? Iin all fairness now!

  18. Utter detritus, any seasoned metal fan can hear the total lack of conviction. As for the lyrics, I’ve nothing to say!!

  19. Total crap

  20. Rocking out like fuck and chasing chickens in a yard. Pretty fucking burtal

  21. Man.That video

  22. Black Shepherd Carnage Says:

    Apparently “Sail” is an Awolnation cover.

  23. Christ on a fart, they’re even eating br00tally in that video, gick of the highest order.

  24. Is this song satirising men who refuse to grow up and leave their teenage ways behind?

    The pathetic behaviour in this video seems rather deliberate.

    Regardless of whether it’s serious or not, the musical quality is a step back from The Fury of our Maker’s Hand (song), I think. That song has melody.

  25. wtf is this shit

  26. Devil driver Des fafara, meeeeegs rascon,coal chamber.Such hellish buzz words.I’d managed to all but extricate them from my mind until now…the nightmare made real again. Another lobotomy is clearly in order.I could barely even look at a picture of Des, such is my loathing for his music, for fear I might recall part of a video or a few bars of a song by one of his bands and have to suffer the torment of that few seconds recall.It’s fair to say that Coal chamber being one of the worst bands in any genre to ever exist put pay to any mention of Des and his music being greeted with anything other than symptoms akin to that of post traumatic stress disorder and or fits of rage.To Metal as Good charlotte were/are? to punk,I’m weeping openly as I write this,weeping because Des created music.

  27. video is cringe. Your man is too old for this kind of stuff but if it was a new/unknown band I think it’d be received better. Good to see this kind of stuff reviewed anyway.

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