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