Review Summary: DevilDriver delivers another punishing mix of crazed guitar work and pile-driving rhythms. One to start mosh pits in mere seconds.3 of 5 thought this review was well written
Most of the nu metal genre was in large amounts of disarray in 2003 when Dez Fafara, then vocalist for Coal Chamber, left the scene. While many of its bands were somewhat popular, the nu metal genre really had no where to go and Fafara left the clutter behind and started up a new band called DevilDriver. This new band was everything that Coal Chamber wasn't, very heavy, with great instrumentals and raspy growls the constant in vocals from Fafara. However, it seemed that the nu metal monkey continued to linger on Dez's back, as their first self-titled
album contained a lot of elements that remained similar to his Coal Chamber days. Fortunately, DevilDriver kept going and released two great albums, 2005's The Fury of Our Maker's Hand
and 2007's The Last Kind Words
with such highlights as "Clouds Over California" and "End of the Line". Both of these albums showed that Fafara had shed the skin of nu metal into a much more lean and thunderous element that works on pure heaviness with added bits of groove and melody. This is continued with 2009's Pray for Villains
and shows once and for all, DevilDriver is here to stay.
One thing the listener will almost immediately notice upon listening to this album is drummer, Jon Boecklin. His rabid double bass and swift fills will leave many drummers in their dust. The opening and title track, "Pray for Villains", is an excellent example of this, as his furious drumwork pushes the song forward and adds extensive amounts of heaviness and groove to the album. The guitarists, Mike Spreitzer and Jeff Kendrick, also do not disappoint, blasting out booming, lightning-fast riffs, catchy intros, breakdown-like passages and great harmonized leads (check "Resurrection Blvd." for a great example of the latter). Their solos, are top notch as well, being far from mindless wankery, but still speedy and containing pronounced amounts of melody (check "Waiting for November" and "I've Been Sober"). Fafara's vocals mainly consist of a raspy shout and a higher-pitched wail that grinds over the underlying insanity. At times, his lyrics do falter, with several cheesy and uninspired lines dotted throughout the album. They do occasionally bring up the cringe reflex upon listening to them, but are really nothing major. The bass is heard on occasion, but really gets lost with in the tornado of drumming and guitar wizardry. Consistent performances from all of the major instrumental elements is what thrusts this album forward, starting violent pits in the process.
Personally, the greatest climax of the album is the eighth song, "Waiting for November". The guitars create a creepy and haunting intro that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Then, Fafara lets out a tortured scream and Boecklin lets loose a couple of breakneck fills and punishing blast-beats. The chorus of the song is very memorable and spine-chilling with Fafara spitting out the lines, "You looked so beautiful at your funeral, Laid out and dressed your best, as your daughter put you to rest" until they're etched into memory. The solo is amazing and contains enough shredding to fall a small tree, while containing excellent melody and emotion. Finally, the song closes out with a heavy, chugging breakdown-like segment that is very headbang worthy. In my opinion, this is one of the best, if not the best song DevilDriver has ever released and combines everything going for the band into just over 5 minutes of perfection. Other strong tracks include the opening "Pray For Villains", the remorseful "I've Been Sober", the rage-filled "Back With a Vengeance" and the roaring "Pure Sincerity" and "Forgiveness Is a Six Gun". The album does seem to lose a bit of its opening steam once the ninth track, "It's In the Cards" kicks in. The consistency of the album seems to fall off and less memorable creations seem to somewhat infiltrate the end of the album. Still, the album offers high amounts of catharsis and mosh-worthy material to complement and seems to hold its own replay value well.
Pray for Villains
has its high points and low ones, many of the lower ones coming from the rather shaky moments lyrically. Still, the album delivers a hard punch that will leave a bruise for awhile. It hits you in the face with ferocity and doesn't let go until the final drum kick. Drummer, Jon Boecklin, is one of the better in the business and really delivers a stand out performance, along with the guitarists as well. In the end, this is the album that should (if it hasn't already) solidify Dez Fafara's status within heavy metal's elite. It is a powerful modern metal record and shouldn't be missed, so pick it up and enjoy (hopefully). Pray for Villains
gets a 3.5 out of 5.
Pray for Villains
Back With a Vengeance
I've Been Sober
Forgiveness Is a Six Gun
Waiting for November