Devildriver

Beast

01. Dead to Rights
02. Bring The Fight (To The Floor)
03. Hardened
04. Shitlist
05. Talons Out (Teeth Sharpened)
06. You Make Me Sick
07. Coldblooded
08. Blur
09. The  Blame Game
10. Black Soul Choir
11. Crowns Of Creation
12. Lend Myself To The Night

[02/22/11]
[Roadrunner]

Alright, so I quick history of how I feel about Devildriver. Short answer—I love them. I thought their first album was ‘meh’ and bordering on terrible, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of their subsequent releases. So much so that I would probably say they are in my top 25 or so favorite bands, I even loved 2009’s Pray For Villains, which everyone else seems to hate. Dez Fafara has been a favorite vocalist of mine since I was a douchy Coal Chamber fan back in 8th grade (hey, I didn’t know any better!), so his resurgence in a proper metal band has definitely been a huge part of Devildriver’s appeal for me-that and their ability to craft heavy, groovy, melodic, and often very catchy songs (all without using clean vocals or gimmickry).

So it is with a heavy heart that I have to say this—I’m not really feeling their new one, Beast, which hits stores today.

On one hand, what’s not to like? This album fuckin’ stomps. It’s heavier and faster than anything on Villains, that’s for sure.  It could be their heaviest album, period.  Dez is sounding great, there is double bass all over the damn place, the riffing and solos are solid as always, so what’s missing?

For me, it’s the songwriting; their last 3 albums all had multiple songs that would be stuck in my head for days after only a listen or two, see “Before the Hangman’s Noose”, “Clouds Over California”, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost”, “Pure Sincerity”, “Pray For Villains”, “It’s In The Cards”, “The Fury Of Our Maker’s Hand”, “Ripped Apart”, “Hold Back The Day”, the list goes on and on. Basically the first half of The Last Kind Words, fucking all of The Fury Of Our Maker’s Hand, and maybe 80% of Villains. Meanwhile, Beast is seriously lacking in the “damn, that song is stuck in my head” department.  “Dead to Rights”, “Shitlist”, “You Make Me Sick” and “Black Soul Choir” are memorable, but so far there’s not much else that’s doing it for me.

Sure, it’s heavy and fast, but Devildriver is not about to “out heavy” even the most generic of deathcore bands, or “out speed” even the most generic of tech-death and grind bands out there in the year 2011. My point being that they need great songs to stay relevant, and Beast does not quite deliver. I would chalk some of this up to the songs being too long (at an average of about 4:30-5:00 minutes each) and having too many songs total (12 is about the absolute max for me) this gives the album a samey and plodding feel, despite the upbeat tempos.  They should have given the songs more twists, turns, and varying textures to keep things interesting, or made some tough cuts and thrown two or three songs in the trash. The album would have been better for it; don’t give the people more, give the people good.

Beast is definitely an enjoyable album, and with some more spins I may warm up to it a bit more, but I can’t help but feel disappointed with it.  Maybe I was expecting too much from Devildriver? I was hoping they would bust out a magnum, game-changing opus a la Machine Head‘s 2007 masterpiece The Blackening, but instead we get…another Devildriver album. Not that this is a terrible thing, and I am still a huge fan-but Beast falls squarely into the category of “if you’re already a fan, you will dig it. If you’re not, you won’t.”

Devildriver – Beast gets….

2.5/5

– JB

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