Monday, August 19, 2013


Napalm Records

"Winter Kill" makes album number six for Dez Fafara and DevilDriver. It's also the group's first new material in two years. That's six full-length albums from a band that I'd have bet any amount of money on not surviving past an album or two. And yet here we are looking at a new album from this California bunch which started out as Deathride some ten or eleven years ago. Everyone should already know the story of how Dez Fafara formed this group after the demise of his nu metal act Coal Chamber. Other then maybe bassist Christopher Towning (Bury Your Dead, ex-Corpus Christi, ex-Suffocate Faster, ex-Too Pure To Die) it looks as if there has been the same line-up in place since 2004 or so. That means this band should have consistency and chemistry on their side. I'd say that for the most part they do seem to gel together nicely. Therefore, you're not going to hear any argument coming from me about how well this band works together or for that matter their obvious skills as musicians. My only argument then is that DevilDriver is more hit or miss on "Winter Kills" then anything else. The group's last album, 2011's "Beast", was also a mixed bag for many and while I never actually heard it I do remember reading quite a few reviews of it and how friends (who were fans of the band) thought it was just so-so. When it came to this album I left all my expectations at the door. I'd like to say that I also left all of my bias at the door as well, but some sneaked in. With that being the case I opted to listen to this album a second time to make sure I wasn't just writing them off because of Fafara's past band. The thing is there are parts of this album that were better then expected. What works on "Winter Kills" then? One thing is the heavy riff-age. There are points on this album where the heavy riffs threaten to just take off and destroy everything. Of course that is one thing I like (heavy riffs with nice depth and the potential to be soul-crushing) and in that regard the band does succeed. If nothing else "Winter Kills" is a HEAVY album. It's meant to sound loud as the group is using it as a sort of sonic soapbox upon which to preach. Per the promo, "Winter Kills" is "all about the creation of flash over moments to empower people with hope and affirmation—or at the very least, the inspiration for people to create great work and engineer their own meaningful universes". So yeah, you're going to want to be heard LOUD and clear when you're looking to enlighten and empower people. Also, the vocals of Dez Fafara were better then I remembered them to be. Mind you Dez doesn't have greatest set of pipes or anything silly like that. But, they do work here as he stands atop the band's evolved sound (evolved for me that is as I remember this band being some sort of nu metal/thrash combination). Describing said sound might be a bit difficult. There's still some of that old sound I remembered (nu metal and thrash) in tiny amounts, but now DevilDriver also cuts into some melodic death, groove and even speed metal (to be clear it's a small teaspoon or so of it) on their sixth full-length release. Before "Winter Kills" is all said and done the band bounces back and forth between good ideas and bad ideas resulting in an album that, as previously stated, is hit or miss. No doubt fans will buy it regardless of good or bad reviews as this band does have a loyal following. For the rest of us it's a little less clear whether this album is worth the cost or not. Your best bet would be to listen to on iTunes (or maybe even Youtube?) before plucking down any hard earned cash.

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