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Devildriver - "Winter Kills" (CD)

Devildriver - "Winter Kills" CD cover image

"Winter Kills" track listing:

1. Oath Of The Abyss
2. Ruthless
3. Desperate Times
4. Winter Kills
5. The Appetite
6. Gutted
7. Curses And Epitaphs
8. Carings Overkill
9. Haunting Refrain
10. Tripping Over Tombstones
11. Sail

Reviewed by on August 6, 2013

"Devildriver delivers another potent mix of melodic death metal growls and howls and Pantera-esque grooves on 'Winter Kills.'"

Devildriver delivers another potent mix of melodic death metal growls and howls and Pantera-esque grooves on "Winter Kills." It hits like a punch in the mouth and doesn't leave anything standing in its wake.

Despite all the aggression, there's also a nice amount of shading here. Both "Oath Of The Abyss" and the especially groove-laden "Ruthless" start with quieter moments that effortlessly segue into Mike Spreitzer and Jeff Kendrick's double-guitar assault. Riff-wise, the aforementioned "Ruthless" stands out, as do the speedy "Tripping Over Tombstones" and the slightly slower "Carings Overkill."

There are also plenty of great lead guitar moments, including a pair of face-melting solos in "Carings Overkill" and an excellent bit of fretwork near the end of "Haunting Refrain."

Dez Fafara's death growl almost never feels out of place — even in the album's most melodic moments. Granted, he's almost always delivering the vocals in a full-throated shout, but even there, he manages to add some subtle shadings to the screaming in tracks like "Tripping Over Tombstones" and "The Appetite."

Also impressive is the work on the low end by drummer John Boecklin and the band's new bassist, Chris Towning, who are given plenty of room in the mix to do their thing. Boecklin is especially excellent throughout, with expert double-bass work on "Gutted" that adds power to the simple riff.

On the downside, the album ends with a whimper. The cover of Awolnation's "Sail" feels incredibly simplistic compared to everything else on the album. Fafara may have identified with the lyrics, but there's not much evidence of that in his performance.

All in all, though, Devildriver gets the job done quite splendidly on "Winter Kills." Those looking for death metal fury with more than a touch of groove and some superb solos will find plenty to keep their heads banging here.

Highs: "Ruthless," "Oath Of The Abyss" and "Haunting Refrain."

Lows: The subpar cover of Awolnation's "Sail" that closes the album.

Bottom line: Devildriver delivers another potent batch of groove-infused death metal.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)