DevilDriver
Winter Kills


3.7
great

Review

by Magnus Altkula STAFF
October 1st, 2013 | 34 replies


Release Date: 08/27/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It is smooth sailing for DevilDriver on their sixth studio album

Winter Kills is a highly polarizing record. On one hand it is a clear improvement over the inconsistent Beast whilst also serving as a delightfully destructive force, yet on the other it seems to lack that special spark that put records like The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand and The Last Kind Words over the top. Winter Kills is still distinctively DevilDriver – John Boecklin (drums), Mike Spreitzer (guitar), Jeff Kendrick (guitar) and new boy Chris Towning (bass) wreak controlled chaos like DevilDriver always have, while Dez Fafara is very much his old self: you either love or hate his cookie monster vocals and blue-collar lyrics. Yet, the album isn’t as spellbinding as the two aforementioned ones were. It continues on the darker path set by Beast and the only song coming close to more playful DevilDriver cuts like "Another Night In London," "Back With a Vengeance" and "Damning The Heavens" is "Tripping Over Tombstones," which can effectively be described as a soundtrack to a Wild West bar fight. Otherwise this is DevilDriver’s second-darkest album to date while also being much more coherent songwriting-wise than its predecessor. However, although Winter Kills is another solid addition to DevilDriver’s catalog that features only one weak link (the debut), I can’t call it the band’s crowning achievement to date.

Interestingly, when looking at Winter Kills as a separate entity, you could argue that it is exactly the kind of album Dez Fafara has been trying to make for a decade now: it’s heavy, relentless, coherent and simply takes no prisoners. A new-found sense of urgency can also be felt, and although Mr. Fafara says basically the same things every time a new DevilDriver album is being released, Winter Kills does indeed deliver on the promises of heavy grooves, massive hooks and a biting guitar tone. Yet, despite being a thoroughly enjoyable piece of metal, it doesn’t have the irresistible charisma of The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand and The Last Kind Words. Ultimately it comes down to pretension. It would be unfair to say that DevilDriver have lost their bite when Winter Kills sounds this vicious, but in a way that ultimate drive which newcomers have to prove doubters wrong and put their name up there is less visible here than it was, for example, on The Last Kind Words, probably because DevilDriver have already firmly established themselves as one of the bigger metal bands out there today. Winter Kills doesn’t feature a DevilDriver on autopilot, far from it, but the whole attitude found on the record seems to be of a more content, assured band. While an album like The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand had real highs and lows, resulting in a tense roller coaster that left the listener craving for more, Winter Kills features a rather steady battering-ram sound throughout, which is appeasing, but doesn’t necessarily sentence the replay button to death. The new tracks are bound to be solid additions to DevilDriver’s live-sets, but in all honesty the only cuts capable of absolutely blowing the listener away, like "End of The Line," "Clouds Over California" and "The Axe Shall Fall" among others have in the past, are "The Appetite" and the band’s version of Awolnation’s "Sail," which is one of those rare covers that surpasses the original. That’s not to say Winter Kills isn’t a worthy buy, but it isn’t a second DevilDriver revolution (I dare proclaim that The Last Kind Words was the first) – it’s merely a natural progression from where they last left off.

It’s difficult to say anything unconditionally conclusive about Winter Kills, because it lends itself to varying degrees of acclaim depending on the angle you look at it from. Some will find it to be DevilDriver’s most consistent, vicious, and thus most triumphant release; others will critique the lack of unpredictability and true single material (it must be said though, that in "Ruthless" DevilDriver managed to pick the worst possible candidate for the single, which is quite a feat when looking at all the better options that were available for them). That’s what makes Winter Kills so polarizing: it’s bound to elicit very different emotions and opinions in people who have heard some or all of DevilDriver’s earlier work as well. What can not be contested though, is the band’s growth in maturity, as they have really come into their own as a group. Winter Kills may be just another DevilDriver album, but today that means it is bound to deliver some wicked tunes. While I’m starting to lose faith that the band will ever make an album as infectious and timeless as The Last Kind Words again, I’m comforted by the knowledge that their new material isn’t too far behind in terms of quality. Whenever these guys come to town, I advise every metal fan to go to their gig. DevilDriver put on one hell of a show, and Winter Kills, while not groundbreaking nor particularly surprising, features material well worth blasting from your speakers or seeing live.



Recent reviews by this author
Atrum Tempestas NeantEluveitie Origins
MiXE1 Starlit SkinDoom:VS Earthless
Nocturnal Breed Napalm NightsThyrien Hymns of the Mortals - Songs from the North
user ratings (114)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
matt1148 (4)
Like a fine wine DevilDriver get better with age with one of their best releases so far....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
October 1st 2013


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is the only one I've ever heard by them, but it's great gym music.

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

greg84
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2013


7464 Comments


Not my thing, but good review Magnus.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2013


8391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

This is the only one I've ever heard by them, but it's great gym music.
I remember that Karl tried to get you into Pray For Villains and you said it was too straightforward for you, which in a way is a little funny seeing as how this is like a darker, slightly heavier version of that album haha. But if you liked this then know that The Last Kind Words is where it's really at.

@Greg
Thanks man, as always, your words are much appreciated.

DarkSideOfLucca
October 1st 2013


3401 Comments


Downloading now, can't wit for this

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
October 1st 2013


7127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and new boy Chris Towning (bass)


Use of "boy" seems slightly demeaning?

Great review GreyBeard, been jammin the new DevilDriver for weeks.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2013


8391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

No, I've never made the connection and it's definitely not a derogatory term from where I come from. If other people have a problem with that term as well I can change it but it sounds fine to me.

Thanks bro, what made you change your username?

Wizard
October 1st 2013


19644 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really enjoying this quite a bit. You nailed the backstories behind their best albums too. Bang on with how I felt about each album these guys have produced.

Digging: Ash Borer - Cold of Ages

Acanthus
October 1st 2013


9545 Comments


Liked Coal Chamber, but this group has been hard to get into. Will try it out though, and the gym mention from Willie is intriguing.

Digging: MO - No Mythologies To Follow

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2013


8391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Thanks Karl, I don't know why, but somehow the fact that you still like DevilDriver after all these years makes me smile (in an appreciative way haha).

@Acanthus
Do try it out, who knows, maybe you'll like it. It's different from Beast so if that's the last album you heard from DevilDriver, know that there's hope. Also, I never really liked Coal Chamber which is astonishing given how much I digged nu metal when I was younger haha.

deadrisingx1
October 1st 2013


39 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, Magnus.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
October 1st 2013


7127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm not talking flat out insulting rather just as an observation thing. I mean it's not like they found a random 12 year old on the street and said

"Hey, wanna play in our band kid?"

I don't know, it's just a thing-y : ]

Just a change in pace, what I've got now works better than the idea of holding an iPod and signing up to an open user-base while drunk ; ] It also works a lot better with the music I review/listen to/enjoy.

bloc
October 1st 2013


35024 Comments


Pshh, Winter Births

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2013


8391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I'm not talking flat out insulting rather just as an observation thing. I mean it's not like they found a random 12 year old on the street and said "Hey wanna play in our band kid?"
I dunno, in Europe it's a pretty common saying to denote a new "arrival" if we're talking about sports, music and the ilk.
what I've got now works better than the idea of holding an iPod and signing up to an open user-base while drunk ; ]
That guy was (and still sounds) awesome, just saying ;)

Bloc, that literally makes no sense!

And thanks deadrisingx1, glad you like the album.

Wizard
October 1st 2013


19644 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Karl, I don't know why, but somehow the fact that you still like DevilDriver after all these years makes me smile (in an appreciative way haha).

They write memorable metal songs and they groove hard. What more can you ask for? I'm the furthest thing from an elitist. In fact, I've really been disappointed with a lot of the "Sputnik Approved Metal" as of lately.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2013


8391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I'm the furthest thing from an elitist.
I know, that's sort of what I was going for anyway. And what are the albums you've been disappointed with (just curious, seeing as how I probably haven't heard about half of them)?

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2013


31625 Comments


I still think that Pray For Villains is their best album

yet on the other it seems to lack that special spark that put records like The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand


Always felt that this album suffered from hollow production and inconsistent song writing

Digging: Theo Parrish - American Intelligence

tempest--
October 2nd 2013


14624 Comments


So this is pretty good then? I was honestly not expecting a lot from Dez and the gang, I was starting to think they were a only-one-sorta-okay-album kind band.

Oneiron
October 2nd 2013


195 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pray for Villains was just plain boring. The songs lacked any bite at all. This album sounds like what Pray for Villains should have been coming off of Fury and Last Kind Words.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2013


8391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

@Dev
The production is way better here, agreed, but that album had some classic DevilDriver songs (End of The Line, Grindfucked, Driving Down The Darkness, Sin & Sacrifice, Before The Hangman's Noose) and I always look back on it with fondness. Plus, back then it sounded really fresh. Pray For Villains was cool, but it is their most one-dimensional album imo (well, besides the debut, but that one's leagues behind DD's other work anyway). It was consistent, but not diverse enough imo. For me it goes TLKW > TFOOMH > Winter Kills > Pray For Villains > Beast >>>>>>>debut

@Lloyd
I honestly think you'd like this.

BigPleb
October 2nd 2013


37948 Comments


Decent but pretty boring.

Sums up the band rather well actually.

Digging: Arc Iris - Arc Iris



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy