DevilDriver – “Dealing With Demons I” – Review

DevilDriver – “Dealing With Demons I” – Review

28th September 2020 0 By Gavin Griffiths

The year is 2007, and Dez Fafara’s DEVILDRIVER have just firmly cemented themselves as one of the best modern metal bands on the planet. With tracks like “Clouds Over California”, the early days of COAL CHAMBER’s almost alt.-Goth / nu-metal had been replaced with an unrelenting barrage of riffs and aggression…this was straight up metal, and they meant business. Fast-forward to 2020, and the clouds remain over California, this time because of another tragic spate of wildfires, for which we at AATR send our utmost well-wishes to those affected.  

However, while the fires rage on, so do Devildriver, as we find Dez and co. on their 9th studio album “Dealing With Demons I” , and the first of a planned double release… the only question is, how are they dealing with them well thus far? There’s only one way to find out… 

The album quite appropriately opens up with “Keep Away From Me” given the seemingly never-ending Covid situation (Face mask on Dez or no review) but of course I jest. We initially start off with some creeping, quite delicately plucked guitar, and the gentle splashing of cymbals, which slowly and quite ominously lead us into the album, until eventually we’re struck with an intense flurry of vocal screaming, blast beats and some frantic riff-work. This just got heavy!  

While sticking to their already established modern metal sound the instrumentation here almost incorporates subtle djent/prog qualities not unlike GOJIRA in delivery, while Dez snarls his vitriolic vocals like only he can. He’s had enough here…he’s done with your bullshit; and he’s hurting. Whether it’s a friendship, a close loved one or whoever, he’s been wronged and that pain and disappointment oozes out of the lyrics here as he distances himself. It’s as emotionally charged as it is excoriating; this is a powerful opener. 

“Vengeance Is Clear” follows up and this returns to a more traditional sound with the more consistently unrelenting chug of the riffs, bolstered with a solid groove and enough melodic qualities the layer the track nicely. This is predominantly how most DevilDriver albums run really as they have their tried and tested formula, and here again they prove that, with their no-frills approach to brutally catchy metal, they have no need to fix what isn’t broken.  

The title track for example proves this brilliantly, as they find a perfect balance between their heaviest intentions and that pleasantly, rhythmic aesthetic that allows for just as many instrumental hooks as it does for haymakers. Closing track “Scars Me Forever” also reinforces this with all of the same qualities while subtly blending in an almost middle-eastern vibe with what could possibly be the inclusion of a duduk, or something similar, giving off that distinct cultural tone. 

The main talking point about this album however has to be “Wishing”…because if there were to be any sort of album highlight, it would have to be this. Dez Fafara SINGS! Yes, we’ve got the snarling and the pummelling metal, but he drops a clean vocal out of the blue and the cold, almost stoic tone, coupled with the shift in presentation is unexpected, yet undeniably superb.

The minimalist Gothic undertones counter the more traditionally heavy aspects of their sound allowing a very melodic, and damn infectious listen…this is arguably as accessible as DevilDriver have sounded EVER and there are zero complaints. Nine albums in, and while they’re as reliably unrelenting as ever in terms of what we come to expect as standard regarding a DevilDriver album, they still have a couple of tricks up their sleeve…honestly, I think these demons have been dealt with very well. Fun fact; I tried to drown mine once, but the fuckers could swim…*Pours another Jack Daniel’s*. Anyway, this is certainly recommended listening, and part two should be much anticipated on the back of this. 

Score: 8/10

Track List:

  1. “Keep Away From Me”
  2. “Vengeance Is Clear”
  3. “Nest Of Vipers”
  4. “Iona”
  5. “Wishing”
  6. “You Gave Me A Reason To Drink”
  7. “Witches”
  8. “Dealing With Demons”
  9. “The Damned Don’t Cry”
  10. “Scars Me Forever”

    Record Label: Napalm Records

    Release Date: October 2nd

    For all things Devildriver, click HERE and to purchase the album, click HERE

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