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Album Review: TBA

Friday, February 25, 2011

Album Review: DevilDriver - Beast

Usually at some point, a band will hit a wall. It could be because a change of personnel or record label leads to new impetus or it could be that they want to go conceptual for an album; perhaps they want to improve themselves; maybe create something fresh, inspiring, outlandish, or simply that they’ve run out of ideas. Whatever the reason, in general, said band will either down tools and turn tail in frustration or find a way around or over that damnable wall. In DevilDriver’s case they’ve dispensed with getting cerebral and, instead, simply bought themselves a big-assed tank and they’re gonna roll straight on through.

The aforementioned armored fighting vehicle is their fifth full-length release, Beast, and it’s, by far, their most extreme, barbaric, unstoppable, sinister, behemoth of an album to date. As Dez Fafara has suggested, in reference to their 2007 release, “If you liked The Last Kind Words, this is like that on steroids and crank, driving a Buick Skylark 200 miles an hour straight to Vegas.” Basically, if you thought their back catalog was the equivalent of being hit repeatedly with a plank of wood, this is that same plank of wood, but covered in nails.

DevilDriver have always had a massive groove-based, swarming sound but here there are tracks that simply just don’t let up. It’s a constant attack that completely drowns your senses in one elongated hit. The vocals in the verses of “Hardened”, impossibly, don’t even pause for breath as the cyclical guitars pile on pillow after suffocating pillow. There is also an underlying, malevolent message that rips through everything, from the bleak chord choices to the scathing lyrics, revealing the kind of negative emotion that Fafara and co. were experiencing at the time of writing. Tracks like “You Make Me Sick” and “Coldblooded” feature the kind of soul-sucking gloom that are more likely to inhabit the black metal world of Samael or Moonspell. There’s also lyrics like “I don’t know you but I fucking hate you, you’re a marked man” that dominate “Blur” and what starts out as Fafara making a “Shitlist”, rapidly ends up with him compiling a “hit list” – now that’s dark. It’s also interesting that the more familiar, straight-up, muscle-bound style that marks out the stunning opening salvo of “Dead To Rights” and “Bring The Fight (To The Floor)” were both released as singles, because there could be a bit of a shock factor when you finally get your hands on this and realize just how evil it is.

There are several times that Lamb Of God come to mind – the mind-blowing depth of heaviness that powers out of John Boecklin’s drumkit is now comparable in so many ways to Chris Adler’s cacophonic battery, and when Fafara gets REALLY pissed he brings out the strain, reaching up to peak at Randy Blythe levels of rasp. “The Blame Game”, in particular, wouldn’t look out of place if you stuck it in the middle of Wrath. It rocks like an absolute bastard before pitching itself into a big Chimaira-esque beatdown.

I must admit I’m not a huge fan of their more melodic 16 Horsepower cover, “Black Soul Choir”, or their continued love of the fadeout or, for that matter, the rather bare artwork (but it’s still infinitely better than Pray For Villains comedic owl) but I guess I’m just being a pedant. Let me cut to the chase. There’s no other way to say this so I’ll just, like DevilDriver’s tank, plough on regardless. Beast is, well… a beast. That wall of theirs won’t know what’s fucking hit it.

Also online (with samples) @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/devildriver-beast

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