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Devildriver - "Beast" (CD)

Devildriver - "Beast" CD cover image

"Beast" track listing:

1. Dead To Rights
2. Bring The Fight (To The Floor)
3. Hardened
4. Shitlist
5. Talons Out (Teeth Sharpened)
6. You Make Me Sick
7. Coldblooded
8. Blur
9. The Blame Game
10. Black Soul Choir
11. Crowns Of Creation
12. Lend Myself To The Night

Reviewed by on March 22, 2011

"To put it plainly, 'Beast' is DevilDriver's most primal, pounding and blatantly angry record."

California’s DevilDriver has definitely risen to an impressive position in the metal heap recently, whether it’s because of their seemingly never-ending touring or grueling album release schedule, with a new album being released every couple of years. The band’s ascension up the heavy music ladder will certainly continue with the release of their latest record, the aptly-titled “Beast.”

Gone are the more melodic sections from their previous record “Pray For Villains.” To put it plainly, “Beast” is the band's most primal, pounding and blatantly angry record. But for all the pent-up aggression being released on the album, there is an undercurrent of darkness running through the countless tunes, featuring eerie and uncomfortable clean guitars passages. Even the song titles reflect a change in mindset and a step up in aggression; instead of “Teach Me How To Whisper,” “I’ve Been Sober” and “Another Night in London,” we’ve got “Shitlist,” “You Make Me Sick” and “Bring The Fight (To The Floor).”

Opening number and first single “Dead To Rights” features a punishing main guitar riff, which is backed by Dez Fafara’s multi-layered vocal attack. Jon Miller’s bass work punches through the mix during the middle section of the ferocious “Hardened,” which features some slightly progressive timing and spaced out chords, both of which are successfully countered with a guitar-thrashing punk-rock chorus. The powerhouse drumming of John Boecklin continues to grow with each release from the band, and his awesome work on the skins is the backbone for the entire record. Basically, all of “Beast” is one elongated highlight package for the man on the drum throne.

The down-tuned riffing of “Talons Out (Teeth Sharpened)” packs some subtle wah-wah work and deep layers of guitar, all inside of a seriously angry four-and-a-half minute tune, while “Blur” works as yet another vehicle for Fafara to fire out barbs of malice over the top of Boecklin’s marauding drum work. As always, the production is impeccable, with just the right amount of rawness and dirt added to the otherwise spotless mix. This is thanks to the Mark Lewis production and the mixing job of the omnipresent Andy Sneap.

The addition of more guitar solos in the band’s sound has worked out rather positively for the group, with the fleet finger runs of “Coldblooded,” “Lend Myself To The Night” and the aforementioned “Hardened” showing that Mike Spreitzer and Jeff Kendrick are more than just solid rhythms players. “The Blame Game” hides its planet-smashing breakdown until the end, with the song surely one destined for the live setting. The unexpected cover of 16 Horsepower’s “Black Soul Choir” seamlessly slots in with the rest of the album.

As Fafara has quipped in the press many times, DevilDriver is on an upwards path. While it might not be the strongest album in their ever deepening back catalogue – which is more a signal of how damn impressive their previous releases have been - “Beast” is fittingly a beast of a record and you can only see the group moving onto even bigger things from here on out.

Highs: A violent release from a well-oiled metal band in their prime.

Lows: Those who loved the more melodic moments on “Pray For Villains” might be a tad disappointed.

Bottom line: Fan of angry, pissed off heavy music? Then buy this record right now.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)