21 February 2010
by Tom Gibbons
There can’t be many metallers who completely disapprove of DevilDriver – apart from the obvious Coal Chamber thing, it’s difficult to be cynical about Dez Fafara’s band. For almost 10 years DevilDriver have worked hard to set up their own groovy little corner in the metal market – a formidable live band with more than a few legendary circle pits to speak of – and more than a few people are rootin’ for them to make the next step following the release of their latest album, Beast.
DevilDriver fans rejoice – these 12 tracks are what you want to hear: a rhythm section from Hell, downtuned shredding and Dez getting in a proper huff on tracks like ‘Shitlist’ and ‘You Make Me Sick’ (and, in fact, on pretty much every track). But if I’m going to be as brutal as DevilDriver claims this album to be, Andy Sneap’s brilliant mix and John Boecklin’s pummeling drums actually make these tracks sound fiercer than they actually are.
As each track passes, Dez’s vocals start to sound closer to puerile gargling, and the venomous shred starts to resemble dull, indistinguishable stock guitar riffs. I find myself digging for 2007’s The Last Kind Words, where DevilDriver’s guitarists last seem to captured some semblance of imagination in their songwriting. Everyone loves groovy chugging riffs with wicked drumming, but many – including DevilDriver – have done better. Shoddy dynamics, questionable arrangement, aforementioned uninspiring riffage gives everything a curiously rushed feeling overall, and hamstrings any potential Beast might’ve had for winning DevilDriver new fans.
Watch the video to ‘Dead To Rights’ by DevilDriver:
Still, that’s not to say Beast isn’t a powerful record. Hell, this is great to stick on and pump some iron to, or drive dangerously fast to (don’t do this), or barbeque some meat to, and unless you’re listening very carefully you’ll fucking love it. But it’s for that very same reason that Beast is also something of a disappointment, and to a casual admirer hoping for a mind-blowing experience this is nothing more than a solid offering. It’s not shit, by any stretch of the imagination.
I’ll go and see DevilDriver when they tour this album, I’ll gladly pay for a ticket, break out the beers and shout ‘You’re On The Shitlist!” back at Dez and think it’s cool. You probably ought to as well. What I won’t do, however, is recommend this album to anyone other than DevilDriver diehards or drummers.
Sounds like: Pantera, Chimaira, Lamb of God
Top tracks: Shitlist, Black Soul Choir, You Make Me Sick
DevilDriver – Beast tracklisting:
Dead to Rights
Bring the Fight (To the Floor)
Talons Out (Teeth Sharpened)
You Make Me Sick
The Blame Game
Black Soul Choir” (16 Horsepower Cover)
Crowns of Creation
Lend Myself to the Night