Devildriver – Winter Kills

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Review by Brady Deeprose

Napalm Records

There’s a lot to be said for being a solid, dependable metal band. Nothing outrageously unique but not bland: just perfect for some circle pits and party anthems. Devildriver, for me, have always been this kind of band. They haven’t released any songs I don’t like, but apart from The Last Kind Words, nothing of theirs has absolutely blown me away. This trend continues with the bands 6th album Winter Kills, a record that Dez himself has described as “an album you can start on” making a contrast to Beast, their last release, which was definitely one for the more seasoned fans.

A strong opening is essential and ‘Oath Of The Abyss’ brings this with aplomb, you can hear the unique style that was cemented with Pray For Villains creeping back into the band’s sound: a wise move. The first few tracks en masse feel very much like an exercise in  DevilDriver-by-numbers which, while decent, does very little to stimulate my senses. A few listens in however, and the songs reveal more depth than at first they had betrayed. The band’s love of Gojira is evident with some of the riff styles taking influence quite strongly, which I’m never going to argue with. ‘Gutted’ is the perfect example of this with angular riffs and some unconventional drumming making an unexpectedly catchy song. The second half of the album is considerably better (something that doesn’t often happen for me) culminating in a stunning cover AWOLNATION’s ‘Sail’. An unexpected yet extremely welcome addition, I actually heard it first before realising it was a cover and it was a genuine album highlight: great call there by Dez’s kids.

What can I really say other than if you’re a fan of tasty grooves and heavy music, you’ll enjoy this. If you’re a fan of deep lyrics however, this probably would be one to avoid. Dez has always been a decent lyricist but the cliché ridden Winter Kills is not him at his best. I can’t see Winter Kills going down as a classic any time soon but what Devildriver have put out is a solid record that, over time, seems to seep out more and more character. Definitely five listens in, my view has shifted radically from indifference to a real intrigue…such is the power of the ‘Driver.

Devildriver - Winter Kills7 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Oath Of The Abyss
  2. Ruthless
  3. Desperate Times
  4. Winter Kills
  5. The Appetite
  6. Gutted
  7. Curses And Epitaphs
  8. Carings Overkill
  9. Haunting Refrain
  10. Tripping Over Tombstones
  11. Sail (AWOLNATION Cover)