As I'm writing this I finally got my advance copy of Devildriver's upcoming new release 'Beast' a whole four days before release. And by now there has been six released singles for this project. So if you've been keeping tabs you pretty much have heard half of the record by now. Let's dive into this after the jump.
'Beast' is the 5th full length album released by the band from Santa Barbara featuring vocalist Dez Fafara previously of Coal Chamber. It's been 8 years since the release of the self titled debut and from what I can hear there has been little progression. In areas there has been some regression actually. Musically Devildriver is still furious and brutal as always with the twin guitars of Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer. There are distinct riffs and clean solos on each track. Jon Miller and John Boecklin provide a punishing rhythm section with double bass drums that kick your ass constantly and the bass tone is prominent in each song.
Then comes the weak link in this band after all of these years. While the music is thrashy and riff laden and punishing, Dez Fafara spends almost every track screaming his head off with lyrics like "I don't know you but I fucking hate you". I don't have a problem with harsh vocals especially growls on a lower register but if you are going to scream your lyrics on each and every track you are a metalcore act. If Devildriver's goal was to be the heaviest metalcore act then they succeeded. The only progression I see on 'Beast' is that Dez screams more and more with each release. We get it. You're tough guys and this band is solely here to be metal as fuck. To the point where you lose identity and become boring and at times just unlistenable.
And that's perfectly fine if the target audience are people that don't care about deep lyrics and just want to bang their heads and hardcore mosh to a brocore soundtrack. 'Beast' delivers on that. If this had just been an instrumental album it would be great. There are plenty of changes and catchy riffs and solos to go around. What kills it is Dez Fafara. Dude, you can be metal as fuck and still be melodic with range. We get it, you're metal. You don't have to try and one up yourself on every release to the point where your larynx is going to splatter on the wall.
If I had to pick any standout tracks I guess it would be 'Dead to Rights' and 'Black Soul Choir'. At least something different was attempted and somewhat memorable. If you're already tired of Devildriver then this release will not change your mind. If you're a bro that wants to split some skulls then you will continue to be pleased by 'Beast'. I just want more then one trick from this pony after all this time.
My score: 5 sins out of 10
Here again is the 'Dead to Rights' video to get a sample of what's on this record due out on February 22nd via Roadrunner Records.