Thursday, 19 September 2013

Devildriver - Winter Kills - Review

Album Type : Full Length

Date Released : 23/8/2013
Label : Napalm Records

Winter Kill, album track listing :

1. The Oath
2. Ruthless
3. Desperate Times
4. Winter Kills
5. The Appetite
6. Gutted
7. Curses and Epitaph’s
8. Caring’s Overkill
9. Hunting Refrain
10. Tripping Over Tombstones
11. Sail

Bio :

Devildriver overlord Dez Fafara will readily acknowledge the basic tenet of heavy metal is to achieve the essence of power and complete freedom. At the most base level, it’s a concept that can manifest itself in the form of a high-speed joyride or defeating one’s antagonists, be they Frank Frazetta-rendered warriors or the guy/girl who was looking at your lover too long at the biker bar and now has a concussion and a collection of broken pool cues. On Devildriver’s sixth release, Winter Kills, the band certainly didn’t skimp on the riffage, the idling-dragster tempos or the sheer sonic drive that makes them one of heavy music’s respected outfits. Winter Kills is all about the creation of flashover 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. This ain’t no tired Tony Robbins posi-posturing or Joel Osteen’s cartoony, cash-and-Christ posing. The world got more oppressive, and Devildriver are stepping up their game to keep hope alive in the most bone-powdering, cochlea-bleeding, neck-snapping way possible 

The Band :

Dez Fafara – lead vocals
Jeff Kendrick – guitar
John Boecklin – drums
Mike Spreitzer – guitar
Chris Towning – bass

Review :

Oft the musical equivalent of a punch in the face, I don't think there's a band out there who could ever match DevilDriver's brutality. Sure, there are much heavier bands in existence, but DevilDriver’s uncanny knack in conjuring songs with both monolithic brutality and searing beauty is just outstanding.

Recorded at Audiohammer Studios in Florida, album number 6 draws more comparisons to 'The Fury of the Maker's Hand' than it does to 'Pray for Villains' or 'Beast.' This is somewhat understandable however considering it's their first release since longtime bassist Jon Miller, who was attributed with a lot of writing credits on 'Pray for Villains'. Yet, what we are greeted with is not the sound of a band traveling in some new direction at all. Winter Kills sounds like no other band but DevilDriver, it is a classic record. Dare I say, this may be their best record yet?

From the explosive opening of Oath in the Abyss to the metallic bastardization of indie band Awolnation's track Sail, a song his teenage sons brought to his attention, this album is nothing short of astonishing. You are given no time to breath between the opening tracks as they tear you a new arsehole one by one. Oath in the Abyss opens in a typically ferocious, unapologetic manner with a grooving riff, straddled by harmonized lead guitar that wails phenomenally. The theme for the album is very much set here.

With Mark Lewis (Trivium, Chimaira, The Black Dahlia Murder) behind the producers desk for his second consecutive DevilDriver album the sound is pristine, its clarity integral to the flaunting of both this bands outstanding qualities. Exemplified no better than on tracks like
Ruthless and The Appetite; their ability to turn from the blisteringly heavy to the painfully beautiful in the blink of an eye is bewilderingly brilliant. Arguably the smartest written song on the record, The Appetite builds with clean guitars before unleashing a ridiculously amount of irresistible hooks, killer riffs and a solo that will leave you on your knees. It ticks every box of the expectations you had before listening to the album. No expletive could accurately describe the unadulterated power of this song. I guarantee you’ll be singing “eyes of fire on you” in no time.

As the album draws to a close, you find yourself unable to pick out a standout track. They are all sensational. Latter tracks like
Curses and Epitaphs, Haunting Refrain and Tipping Over Tombstones all grab you by the scruff of the neck and thrash you about something silly. Sail meanwhile, provides the album’s final flourish. On its surface, DevilDriver covering an indie band is a terrifying thought. It simply isn’t the reality though. It’s a track that proves just how good this band is at writing songs. Taking a synth orientated pop song, Dez Fafara saw the potential for a makeover, and he knew how good the song would look in war paint and a Pantera shirt. It is this ear for a hook, for that spark in something and then his, and the rest of the band’s resourcefulness to turn it into something truly special that makes DevilDriver what they are.

By this point, I’ve ran out of superlatives. Listen to this album and you will to. Obviously time will be the true test for this album, although I feel it will have no problem. This is an assured long stay in the CD and vinyl players of metalheads the world over. Whether or not you think that Winter Kills is their best release to date is up to you, but it is a definite contender.

Words by : Phillip Weller

For More Information :

Thanks to Napalm Records for sending us a promo to review.