DevilDriver – Winter Kills

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Napalm Records

Review by CatA

Before I start on this review I have to get in a note that I just finished my first listen of this album, I feel like I got whalloped in the head by a crowdsurfer in New Rocks. Woah. Let me catch my breath and go back for round two… that was AWESOME! In case you haven’t heard of them, DevilDriver are fronted by ex-Coal Chamber vocalist Dez Fafara and got together in 2002. Their five previous full length releases were on the Roadrunner label, before the switch to Napalm Records in July 2012. There has been a change in bassist, with Chris Towning having been promoted from touring bass to full time member, fitting in with Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer on guitars. John Boecklin completes the five piece on the drums. They describe their sound as  a power-groove death-metal hybrid, and if you have ever seen them live you will know that their circle pits are something of legend. The opening bars lull you into a momentary false sense of security where those who have not heard the band before may be tempted to knock the volume up a few notches for the intro to Oath of the abyss. Unless you want to spend the next few weeks with a raging case of tinnitus I suggest you have a little patience, and take a deep breath.

This is an album that takes all the bad in life and flips it on its head to transform the energy to a driving force of thunderous drumming and powerful riffs that simply does not let up. The opener gives way to the slightly faster tempo of Ruthless, then onwards to Desperate Times at a relentless pace that leaves you little time to catch a breath until the title track, Winter Kills.

Fafara’s vocals are an interesting mix of thrashy clean tones and death metal style growls that fit incredibly well across the whole album. while sometimes music says more in the silences, and Gutted is a masterclass in the use of rests to create a syncopated feel in places.

I honestly can’t pick a bad or out of place track on Winter Kills, despite looking for one. A worthy mention goes to the closing song, which is an unexpected cover of AWOLnation’s Sail, which caught Fafara’s ear thanks to his teenage son. It got the DevilDriver makeover and is a great end to a well made album.

In a genre where the overall feel of lyrics can be negative and hate fuelled, Winter Kills is all about grabbing life by the balls and feeling free, keeping the drive to live life to the full. High energy, relentless killer riffs and catchy hooks make this one of the albums you should buy if you feel the need to scream at the world and channel your anger. Personally, I now feel the need to go and mosh like there’s no tomorrow!

Rating: *****/5

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