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Devildriver - "Pray For Villains" (CD)

Devildriver - "Pray For Villains" CD cover image

"Pray For Villains" track listing:

1. Pray For Villains
2. Pure Sincerity
3. Fate Stepped In
4. Back With A Vengeance
5. I've Been Sober
6. Resurrection Blvd.
7. Forgiveness Is A Six Gun
8. Waiting For November
9. It's In The Cards
10. Another Night in London
11. Bitter Pill
12. Teach Me To Whisper
13. I See Belief

Reviewed by on July 17, 2009

"Although this may sound silly, at some points, it’s like DevilDriver knows you and is singing your plight."

DevilDriver has proved to be one of the heaviest acts around. The incredible albums, the live shows, and a possible record-breaking circle pit are testament to that. But on “Pray for Villains,” the boys in the band didn’t go as brutal as possible this time. They focused on songwriting, which is something that is often taken for granted in music today. They don’t want to scare you, they want to amaze you. And I say job well done. Every minute of the album is great; each song different than the last. Although this may sound silly, at some points, it’s like DevilDriver knows you and is singing your plight. “Pray for Villains” is an album of frustration, optimism, and struggle that everyone can relate to and embrace.

The album begins with the title track “Pray for Villains,” which is a fast, hard ride into madness. Listening to the drums alone could make you lose your mind. Man or machine, the bass drum thuds faster than a hummingbird’s heart. John Boecklin is an incredible drummer that can play extremely fast double bass, normal rock style, and crazy bridges in between. He plays a techno-type beat at times in “Pure Sincerity.” After a guitar introduction in “I’ve Been Sober,” the drums start booming away and make your adrenaline rush before the rest of the instruments catch up. John is a very versatile and talented drummer.

Let’s not lose sight of the guitars, although it would be very hard to do so. The clean, soaring solos, the psychedelic interludes, the chugging riffs! It’s almost too much to handle. The guitarists Mike Spreitzer and Jeff Kendrick are masters of their craft. In every song, they are upfront riffing away like freight trains about to collide with each other. “Fate” is particularly impressive for them. In other songs, they sound akin to Dragonforce when they lose all distortion and play clean and fast like in “I’ve Been Sober” and “Resurrection Blvd,” which is no small feat considering the extreme technicality and speed Dragonforce are capable of. At times, you would think a groovy, psychedelic guitarist like Slash was making a guest appearance a la “Back with a Vengeance”. But no, they can do that too.

And lastly, there’s Dez Fafara. He shines on this album, bringing his influences up to the mike. No one can say Dez doesn’t like Lemmy Kilmeister. Regardless, his vocals are extremely raspy as he howls out the lyrics. Almost like the drug-addled voice of Matt Pike of High on Fire. What is very unique about Dez’s voice is that you can clearly understand every word he says over the music and his own harsh voice. This makes you immediately attach to the songs because you can sing along right away. “Pray for Villains” is bound to be a popular album to pull phrases from because there are so many that are understandable like “Dying is easy, it’s living that’s hard…” from “Pure Sincerity” and “I’ve got some news for you, you ain’t seen the last of me…” in “Back with a Vengeance.” Such wisdom and angst in simple phrases is the best way to endear listeners to a band because they understand the sentiment. Then everyone should endear themselves to DevilDriver.

Every instrument of this band plays perfectly in the album “Pray for Villains.” It’s a great rock n’ roll and metal work of art that will not be forgotten easily by the community. This album is very intense musically, but it has a lot of feeling and substance, and the songwriting is superb.

Highs: Groovy metal that will amaze you.

Lows: The fast songs are addicting and the album could have used a couple more.

Bottom line: Very interesting meld of metal.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)