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Death Valley Driver - "Choke the River" (CD)

Death Valley Driver - "Choke the River" CD cover image

"Choke the River" track listing:

1. Choke The River With Your Dead
2. Mothsblood
3. Straight To Hell
4. Insect Dirge
5. Heavy Lies The Crown
6. Sleeping All December
7. Lambs In The Wolfskin
8. Armour Divides

Reviewed by on July 26, 2011

"Full of guttural growls, punch-in-the-guts guitar riffs and some surprisingly groovy moments, this album will please a broad spectrum of metal fans."

Adding elements of beer-drinkin' swamp rock into a cocktail of death and thrash metal, Death Valley Driver has created an interesting fusion of sounds on the band's first full-length album, "Choke The River." Full of guttural growls, punch-in-the-guts guitar riffs and some surprisingly groovy moments, this album will please a broad spectrum of metal fans.

Take, for example, the disc's "Insect Dirge," which features guitarists Ray Blacquiere and Nick Doucette playing sludgy blues riffs before launching into a killer solo. Meanwhile, singer Greg Hodgson brings the death metal, with a growl that still manages to convey melody — and brings just enough clean vocals to add variety. The band adds a similar feel to "Choke The River With Your Dead," which has an excellent near-sing-along chorus.

Songs like "Heavy Lies The Crown" and "Sleeping All December" tread slightly more traditional death-thrash territory, but drummer Ryan Gallant still manages to imbue them with a slightly groovier feel.

On the downside, there's enough similarity between the songs that sometimes the disc feels a bit longer than its 40 minutes or so. I'm also not entirely sold on the production — particularly the drum sound, which flirts with "St. Anger" territory on tracks like "Armour Divides." Still, those are fairly minor concerns.

Here's hoping that recent high-profile gigs — including an opening slot for Metallica — gets some eyes and ears on Death Valley Driver's "Choke The River." With swampy sounds joining the death and thrash metal fray, it's got something for most listeners who like the heavy stuff.

Highs: "Insect Dirge" and "Choke The River With Your Dead"

Lows: Some slight production issues and overly similar songs

Bottom line: A better-than-average debut disc that blends swampy grooves with death and thrash sounds.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)