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I don't really care much for Devildriver's earlier discography, it seemed Dez hadn't quite shaken off the nu-metal angst of his previous band, which he claimed to be doing at the beginning of this band's career. You might ask how can I like Pantera or Lamb Of God, but not like Devildriver's self-titled debut, but to even the untrained ear songs like "Pariah" or "A new level" are a whole different ball-game to the likes of "Swinging the dead". It probably seems very unprofessional to start off a review this way, but when it comes to metalcore or groove, I am picky. I cannot hate on Pantera for playing riffs like the ones on "Walk", because then I would have to say I hate "Paranoid", or "Smoke on the water" you see where I'm going? But I can hate on Devildriver's first couple of albums because they still sound very nu-metal, and I'm yet to find a nu-metal band I can actually stomach. I don't put bands like Pantera under the same umbrella as Korn, even though some reviewers do and they claim to have been listening to metal for decades...fools I say. So we've established where I'm coming from so far, and I found "The fury of our maker's hand" a better step toward a more bright future. But "Pray for villains" is a lot more listenable for my standards, although I never set them too high upon first listen anyway. Apparently this band have taken a step more toward death metal, and although I can slightly see where some are coming from, I don't know if I would speak of Devildriver as a death metal band among my friends...would you? Okay so if you've read the other reviews you've probably picked up on the comparisons made towards more average and less inspiring death metal acts. Oh I don't know perhaps I'm not clear on the boundaries between metal genres, but this seems to be a very aggressive album, with some metalcore elements present especially in some of the riffs. I mean if you took away the vocals, and the fast drumming, the riffs just no longer seem that intimidating or "death metal" as some would say. I mean the opening to "Pray for villains" would sit comfortably on "Sacrament" wouldn't you agree?
Dez's vocals are perhaps on full form here, or as good as they are ever going to get. A vaster improvement on past efforts any way, and on songs like "I've been sober" he channels his anthemic abilities in a much more fitting fashion, in a sense opposing everything Devildriver stood for back in 2003. The riffs are more solid this time around with a nice clear tone, but what's more is that the band focus on being catchy, without catering for what a ridiculously angry but harmless thirteen-year-old would listen to on the radio...hey do kids still listen to the radio? With a vaster improvement on riffs and avoiding anything nu-metal or even industrial, we are actually treated to a pretty good album guitar wise. I can point out three songs randomly in my head: "Waiting for November", "Forgiveness is a six gun", or "Fate stepped in", and we have a much versatile display of guitar playing all round. I'm not expecting you to completely adore it, but come on give the band a break, because I think you'd be lying if you were actually expecting much better. The drums are great and technical in places, some may find it generic but I'm not really a drum guy. I feel a competent player is required for the backbone of the song nothing more. Back in the early 80's when bands used to plough into ten minute long drum solos, I was the guy meandering through the crowd on my way to fetch a pint. With some songs the medicority creeps back in such as with "Another night in London", with an irritating chorus which goes: "It takes people like you, to make people like me...Let's start a riot! Let's start a riot!" I mean aside from the obvious vocal difference, hands up if you think System Of A Down or Papa Roach would write songs like this? "It's in the cards" also suffers a bit but truth be told it isn't terrible, it just seems the melodies are a little too accessible and again strip away those drums and those angry vocals, and you've got an instrumental for the next big watered down metal band just about skimming excessive radio play, rising from the barnyards of America no doubt. "I see belief" has some great speedy moments and interesting riffs, but I just have one more bitchy remark to make...those vocals that kick the song off sound like Robb Flynn. It doesn't suit the flow of an otherwise improved album, but knowing my luck I will probably find out in due time it was Robb Flynn...slamming Robb Flynn for sounding like Robb Flynn I can't really say my face would be red.
Eventually Devildriver got there it took a while, but they got there which is the main thing. They may be slightly more appealing to fans of The Haunted, and probably still retain some of their old roots to please fan boys. It's an improvement but they're a lot more than a stone throw away, from the true greats the metal scene has to offer. This is not a band that have changed my life, and even though this album has improved, I still probably wouldn't spend money checking them out live. A good album is one thing, but hitching a train to the capital just to hear the band is a whole other kettle of fish. Yes we have all gathered Coal Chamber and Devildriver's s/t debut aren't hot spots on the must-hear agenda. But despite this band's old nu-metal flavours it still without doubt, is nowhere near as bad as the album "Chocolate star fish and the hot dog flavoured water" by a band which I dare not name, which has probably been the most damaging thing to emerge from the spectrum of heavy music, since Korn or even Linkin Park...that wretched album probably is THE WORST album of all time, and that is apparently nu-metal in all of it's glory. I think I would take Devildriver's earlier albums over that piece of shit any day, even if it would leave an ugly spot in my collection. So now I have put the past into perspective, let's just cut this album some slack...just a little and just admit it's better than half-decent or boring.