[27 April 2011]
When DevilDriver rose from the ashes of Coal Chamber, many people expected the same mainstream performance of heavy music that frontman Dez Fafara had used in his former band. Those expectations were fully eliminated by the time DevilDriver’s second album, 2005’s The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand, stormed onto the scene. It was clear that DevilDriver was a completely separate and undeniably superior band, with their no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners approach to metal. With a decade now under the band’s collective belt, DevilDriver has figured out their niche sound and the best methods of execution for their unique style of melded groove, thrash, hardcore, and death metal. Their fifth album, Beast, lives up to its namesake by being the fastest, most intense, and overwhelmingly heaviest record of their career.
Beast can almost be seen as a “back to the roots” album for DevilDriver due to the experimentation of its predecessor, 2009’s Pray for Villains. On that album, DevilDriver tested a number of new sounds and ideas within the boundaries of their style, with varying degrees of success. Beast does away with almost all of those new elements in favor of the more straightforward structures of The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand and the assaultive intensity of 2007’s The Last Kind Words. This is achieved not only with complete success, but with surprising ease. Beast embodies every compositional and lyrical theme of those preceding albums, in a style that seems totally natural for the band. No riffs or bridges sound out of place, no solos are ill-fitted to their songs, and no lyrics feel forced to match their respective lines. Every song is a seamless work of musical craftsmanship, coming together to form an album that really is a work of compositional art.
Where Beast diverges from DevilDriver’s previous albums, though, is in the all-consuming ferocity of every song. The process of stripping down the new additions from Pray for Villains resulted in everything left in the musical framework being amplified, filling every note of the album with the passion, rage, and violence that they have adopted since their inception. From the full-tilt aggression of “Bring the Fight (To the Floor)” and “You Make Me Sick”, to the insidious creeping virulence of “Hardened” and “Talons Out (Teeth Sharpened)”, to the bile-spewing fury and hatred of “Shitlist” and “Blur”, Beast is the brute force of DevilDriver’s seething wrath put to music. This entire album exudes hostility and antagonism towards a world working against its best people, a quality that DevilDriver fans have and always will identify with.
The musical personification of “anger as artwork”, Beast is a towering new effort from DevilDriver and one of their finest to date. It may not deliver anything new from the veteran group, but what it does deliver comes with unbelievable force at previously unseen levels. More than anything, this album is a testament to the consistency, longevity, and dedication that are the soul of DevilDriver. Never settling, never compromising, and never giving up in the face of adversity, this band and their newest Beast are here to stay, no matter what anyone says to the contrary.