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It’s really easy to see why many people hate Devildriver without even listening to them. They are fronted by Dez Fafara who previously sang for Coal Chamber, a painfully average nü metal band that Roadrunner possibly dropped Suffocation or Gorguts for when that label decided to hit the nü metal goldmine. So, the entire metal community was understandably skeptical when Dez announced his new project “DevilDriver” back in 2002, and according to the old website bio, wanted to go to an old school death and black metal sound. Their debut received much deserved flack when Dez’s view of “old-school death and black metal” sounded like The Haunted and the final Carcass album mashed with Korn and Pantera.
The next following albums sort of redeemed this faceplant, but it still wasn’t really death metal or at all black metal. The closest sound-alike I can gum up is transitionary Arch Enemy, i.e. Burning Bridges and Wages of Sin.
That’s about it really. Mute the vocals in both bands, and one would be hard pressed to find a difference. Not that that’s a bad thing. Arch Enemy, while not a band I personally go insane for, are still an enjoyable band with not that many sound-alikes that are worthy of a listen. Devildriver have nailed the Arch Enemy formula pretty much perfectly: Intense vocals, melodic yet powerful riffs, fitting drums, clear production, and a decent sense of song structure. During the raspier moments of Dez’s performance he almost sounds just like Johan Liiva…’s raspier moments.
That being said, they also suffer from Arch Enemy’s weaknesses. In this case, the entire album is very repetitive. The whole album is almost like one long drawn out song with only a few parts sticking out, such as the title track, “Fate Strapped In,” “Resurrection Blvd.,” and “Teach Me to Whisper.” 16 songs in and only a few stuck with me after two listens. Not the sign of a masterpiece.
But not every musical offering from every band in existence has to be a masterpiece. This album is neither bad nor amazing, it’s good. Not great, but not awful. It’s slightly above average. The only things preventing Mike and Angela from suing are Dez’s vocals and much less guitar solos. So if you are part of the diehard Arch Enemy fanbase (especially the aforementioned Burning Bridges and Wages of Sin… and possibly Anthems of Rebellion) then you could do much worse than “Pray for Villains.” Hell, pick this up even if you aren’t a huge Arch Enemy fan. There’s much worse modern extreme melodic metal offerings out there. Right, In Flames?