DevilDriver - Winter Kills (Roadrunner)

Astoundingly good stuff...
Release Date: 
22 Aug 2013 - 11:30pm

Dez Fafara – the world’s most metal hairdresser - is back with, somewhat incredibly to my mind, his sixth album under the DD banner, Winter Kills. I say somewhat incredibly because I’ve never taken Dez particularly seriously. Maybe that’s because of his former nu-metal guise in Coal Chamber, in fact not probably, that’s exactly why I’ve never taken him particularly seriously. But when you throw in a series of early albums that seemed more interested in chasing the coattails of whatever was popular in extreme music at the time on top of that , then the thought of DevilDriver has never been a particularly enjoyable one for me.

When I said on Metal as Fuck’s facebook page that I was reviewing this album on the Haug Metal radio show one of our readers, Robert Edgeworth, said “I’ll review it for you – it’s fucking good.’ And, however unsettling I find the fact, I have at least in part to agree with him. There is some staggeringly good material on Winter Kills, not least of which the title track, which marries a stuttering, staccato riff maelstrom to Dez’s impassioned roar with a skill and panache I for one never thought the band capable of.  Following track The Appetite is even better, a squalling, coruscating ball of exploding anger, with Fafara’s wounded bull roar backed by some truly impressive guitar work from guitarists Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer.

In fact for all Fafara’s consummate showmanship and mastery of the leather lunged bellow it’s actually Kendrick and Spreitzer who are the real heroes on Winter Kills, their work throughout is never less than exemplarary and often the pair transcend that tag and move into the realms of the inspired – I can’t actually believe I’m appearing on the public record and saying all this, let me assure you -  but there really are too many highlights on the record to list here. And when Kendrick, Spreitzer and Fafara hit top speed at the same time – as they do on Gutted – the effect is simply obliterating.

Not every track reaches these Olympian heights – every now and then the band slips back into regulation, heads down, stern-faced riffage where not much actually goes on beyond slightly humdrum sturm und drang, but the band has the good grace to round things out with the excellent sail, a marvellous piece of light and shade athat is as welcome as it surprising. It’s a cover by American inie electro hipsters Awolnation which of course is about as odd a combination as you’re likely to hear, but it works, And if it’s a pointer to some more experimental material in the future then count me in…