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Album Reviews : DevilDriver – Pray for Villains

By on August 15, 2009

Pray For VillainsI was never the biggest fan of DevilDriver when they become “the next big thing” in metal when they formed soon after Coal Chamber disbanded.

I became a little bitter about the whole break up thing in the latter duration of my high school years as I grew quite accustom to the sounds of Coal Chamber but was a bit hesitant to go any further with DevilDriver.

Thankfully though, I grew up and discovered better music.

It is now 2009 and DevilDriver have released their 4th studio album entitled ‘Pray for Villains’. My first reaction off the mark was, “Wow! This is actually good”. It’s a shame I didn’t bother to listen to these guys sooner.

I’ve heard dribs and drabs of DevilDriver’s earlier material but wouldn’t consider myself a fan of their music. Clearly, this new album had impressed so much that I’m willing to review the album. Which is quite hard to say the least..as I’m a hard man to please, especially when it comes to heavy metal.

The album still carries the trademarks of a quintessential DevilDriver album yet incorporates a higher level of technicality then their previous albums which many may find hard to believe.

Brutal vocals, heavy riffs and blasting drums with plenty of double kick is what you’d expect from any DevilDriver release. There will be times though when you’ll be treated to some maturity in both musicianship and production on ‘Pray for Villains’.

This somewhat small level of maturity elevates the album from the more cliché NWOAHM release and makes the album a little more bearable, and enjoyable to listen too.

The album has a good variation of tracks. The first three tracks, ‘Pray For Villains’, ‘Pure Sincerity’ and ‘Fate Stepped In’ start the album off with some typical DevilDriver brutality. Nice tight riffs which are accompanied by solid drums and Dez’s formidable vocals.

By the fourth track however, things start to get interesting with the track ‘Back with a Vengeance’. The track has a somewhat similar intro to Alice in Chains classic ‘What The Hell Have I’, which has a nice mesmerizing groove to it and also incorporates hints of Zakk Wylde in the solo. It’s one of my favorite tracks so far.

‘Ive Been Sober’ and ‘Resurrection Blvd’ give off small hints of technical ambiance with an infusion of elevated drumming and guitar work while ‘Forgiveness Is A Six Gun’ quickly reverts back to DevilDriver’s hard and heavy approach.You’ll tend to get this a lot on the new album. It varies from total brutality to moments of musical clarity.

Musically, the album is fantastic. The album is consistent, hard and heavy. All the trademarks of a solid metal release. However, there are moments throughout the album where it feels alittle shallow compared to the rest of the album.

Some tracks seem recycled and there delivery seems to lack finesse. One which stands out the most for me, is ‘It’s In The Cards’. This somewhat slow number doesn’t seem to fit in the scheme of the album yet it doesn’t entirely destroy the albums integrity.

I was surprised the album didn’t carry any melodic tracks. Mostly, if not the entire album is shrouded with heaviness. That’s not a bad thing, yet when you think about it, Dez Fafara’s vocal talents couldn’t really perpetuate a solid melodic performance unless you count his rendition of ‘Wasted Years’ on the limited edition version of the album, which is in fact a b-side from an Iron Maiden cover album called ‘Maiden Heaven’

DevilDriver haven’t broken any new boundaries with this new album yet they have made one enjoyable album to listen too. To me, its very straightforward yet infuses small elements which do mix up the structure of the album quite nicely. I would consider this my guilty pleasure of 2009 as I rarely delve into something as mainstream as this. 7.5/10

For fans of: Machine Head, Skinlab, Coal Chamber, Frankenbok, Mudvayne

Band: DevilDriver
Album: Pray for Villains
Year: 2009
Genre: Groove Metal
Label: Roadrunner Records
Origin: USA
www.myspace.com/devildriver

Tracklisting:

1. Pray for Villains
2. Pure Sincerity
3. Fate Stepped In
4. Back With a Vengeance <- Reviewer’s choice
5. I’ve Been Sober
6. Resurrection Blvd. <- Reviewer’s choice
7. Forgiveness Is a Six Gun
8. Waiting for November
9. It’s in the Cards
10. Another Night in London
11. Bitter Pill
12. Teach Me to Whisper
13. I See Belief
14. Self-Affliction (Special Edition Bonus Track)
15. Dust Be the Destiny (Special Edition Bonus Track)
16. Damning the Heavens (Special Edition Bonus Track)
17. Wasted Years (Iron Maiden Cover) (Special Edition Bonus Track)

About

Anwar is the editor-in-chief of Metal Obsession.net. When Anwar isn't busy promoting tours, interviewing bands and reviewing awesome music, he loves to collect metal vinyl and play video games. Follow Metal Obsession on Twitter and Facebook