Released: 2013, Napalm Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
California's Devildriver have been around for a decade but never really made much an impression on me. Indeed, after five albums, the only song of theirs I really remember is “Clouds Over California,” despite having seem them live in opening slots more than a few times. But their latest effort, the aptly titled Winter Kills, is a different story altogether.
Where the band's previous work seemed fairly generic “modern metal,” Winter Kills has plenty of bite, groove and swagger, making it a lot more vibrant and engaging – not to mention memorable. Not exactly what the guys are really doing differently here, but Winter Kills finds the band in a Lamb of God-like attack mode and maybe that's all they really needed – some extra muscle and menace.
“Carings Overkill” is absolutely crushing, a cascade of churning riffs, stampeding drums and Dez Fafara's bug-eyed holler that makes the album stand out from rest of band's back catalog all by itself. And there's plenty more where that came from. “Haunting Refrain” flavors its bluster with a long, yet satisfying lead break, while the title track and “Curses and Epitaphs” deliver moshable refrains and choruses and more turbulent rhythms. “Ruthless” pretty much sums itself up with its title alone.
The album's clear yet assertive production also lets Devildriver thankfully sidestep any nu metal trappings now that Fafara's splitting time with his once former outfit Coal Chamber - leaving Roadrunner Records probably helped in that regard as well. And the about-face cover of AWOLNation's “Sail” makes for a intriguing, if unexpected finish to the album – especially with its almost R&B-like female backing vocals. Its “Blame it on my ADD, Baby!” signature lyric is priceless and shows that despite the mean-ass vibe of the rest of Winter Kills, Devildriver aren't averse to having a spot of fun.