Devil Driver: Winter Kills review

\"WinterWho would have thought from his 90’s Nu-Metal beginnings as frontman Coal Chamber, that now-DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara would have evolved into one of metal’s most charismatic personalities? Maybe his humble upbringing in working class America helped him become the man he is today. Those who know him best know that the man he is now is a far cry from the man he was- refreshed, revitalized and hungrier than ever. The result is Devil Driver’s sixth album, Winter Kills, the band’s most cohesive and by far heaviest album to date. It’s also the first for their new label, Napalm. Despite being heavy as hell, Devil Driver manage to keep the lyrics positive and empowering. “The album is about rebirth”, says Fafara. That rebirth also brings a new level to the song writing. The songs are longer and the song structures themselves are more mature and intricate. The band’s sound has evolved into a sort of groove -driven death metal that has them exploring all new facets of the genre as a whole. The evolution in sound seems only natural from a band that has gotten progressively heavier with each release. Producer Mark Lewis seems to bring the best and ugliest out of the band. Consisting of Chris Towning on bass, John Boecklin on drums, and Jeff Kendrick & Mike Speitzer on guitars, Devil Driver are at the top of their game and sound better than ever. They have gelled as a unit and it shows track after brutal track. The album wastes no time kicking into overdrive and the opener, “Oath of the Abyss,” has one of the most infectious guitar grooves Devil Driver have produced in a while. The riffs on “Ruthless” will have fans thinking of Fear Factory and that’s not a bad thing. “Desperate Times” is devastatingly heavy and deals with the subject of Fafara’s sister’s cancer frankly and openly. Title track “Winter Kills” has an In Flames-style guitar groove and “The Appetite” would be at home on any Trivium or Machine Head album. From there, the disc tears into “Gutted” and the opening Chant of “Take It Back” will stick in your head long after the disc is over. “Curses And Epitaphs” has a Hatebreed-esque delivery- both musically and vocally. “Carings Overkill” shows shades of the last two Testament albums and features some of the most furious drumming on the disc while “Haunting Refrain” deals with the pain of death and things coming to an end. Closing track, a cover of AWOLNation’s “Sail,” has a slow build, that may fool you into thinking the album was going to close with a quiet moment of reflection but you’d be dead wrong. Bottom line is this- This is not the DevilDriver you may remember or think you know. It’s hard to believe that such a brutal offering came from a man that has found so much peace and serenity in life- but that’s exactly what this is…Brutal. This is without a doubt, the best CD this band has recorded yet, so do yourself a favor and buy it. Rating: 9 out of 10. -Eric Hunker