As most readers would know, Devildriver is a completely different musical venture in comparison to Dez Fafara's infamous original band, Coal Chamber, focusing more on the groove/melodic death aspect of metal. Pray For Villains builds on the groundwork set by their past efforts, and adds to it with different musical elements.
The album reminds me a bit of the new Lamb Of God album - Wrath: it definately has it's moments and achievements, but it also has its safer moments that are reminiscent of their past efforts.
From a performance perspective, this is Devildriver at their finest hour. Guitarists Jeff Kendrick, Mike Spreitzer and bassist Jon Miller lock in and play as if they are one, grinding out some of the fattest, heaviest riffs and in the guitarists' roles - melodic leads and harmonies. Drummer John Boecklin lays down his strongest performance: with precise execution he displays fast double bass, heavy blasts and out of this world drum fills. Bitter Pill is an excellent representation of Boecklin's drum performance. Frontman Dez Fafara delivers a stong performance with his trademark bark / growling vocal style.
The production is excellent, capably handled by Dirty Icon Productions' (also ex-Machine Head guitarist) Logan Mader (Psycroptic, Gojira, Cavalera Conspiracy) and mixed by British production wizard Colin Richardson (Trivium, Machine Head)
Songwise, there are some real standouts, such as Pure Sincerity, the seprpentine-like riffage of Back With A Vengeance, the old school thrash infused closer I See Belief, the Pantera inspired Forgiveness Is A Six Gun and the dominant title track Pray For Villains.
That said, some of the other songs are good, but nothing overly groundbreaking. Resurrection BLVD is an example (but it has some sick guitar sweeping in the start of the track). The track Teach Me To Whisper has a bit of a poppier vibe and reminds musically of Atreyu's Right Side Of The Bed in the introduction parts but fans - don't fear, they are not heading in a softer direction, just adding something else to the musical pot.
If you are a Devildriver fan, you will love Pray For Villains, no doubt about it. The deluxe version would definitely be up your alley with bonus tracks and a DVD, and casual fans will be sure to find something they can bang their head to.
Devildriver's Pray For Villains is out 10 July on Roadrunner Records.