Fresh off their triumphant opening slot for Metallica I have in front of me the debut from Prince Edward Island southern metallers Death Valley Driver. DVD won a series of battle of the band type events to gain the coveted opening slot for Metallica at the Rock the Hill concert in Halifax in July of 2011. The band, which consists of Dan Hodgson: Vocals, Ryan P Gallant:Drums, Ric Rumbolt: Bass, Ray Blacquiere :Guitar, Nick Doucette: Guitar, is hoping that the gig will help catapult them and their new CD, CHOKE THE RIVER, into the consciousness of a wider metal audience.
CHOKE THE RIVER is 8 tracks of no holds barred southern influenced metal. The band includes Pantera and Sabbath among their influences and (rightfully) compares their sound to bands such as Down, Black Label Society and Crowbar. The other comparison that I hear is with Dan Hodgeson who vocally sounds, at times, as if he is channeling the spirit of Glenn Danzig. “Choke the River with Your Dead”, “Insect Dirge” and “Mothsblood” are indeed firmly entrenched in that territory shared by bands such as Down and Crowbar. “Heavy Like the Crown” shows a faster more refined side of the band that brings to mind southerners Goatwhore.
Clocking in at a little less than 30 minutes CHOKE THE RIVER is a little light on the material side and could almost be considered a longer E.P. Lest we not forget that some of the best discs in metal’s history have been even shorter than this one. REIGN IN BLOOD comes to mind. Death Valley Driver has certainly used their time on this disc wisely. Each track is uncompromising and carries just enough hooks and melody to bring this listener back again and again. It is no wonder that DVD took out all the competition on its way to opening for Metallica. If they continue to release quality material and keep slugging it out on the touring circuit I see big things in their future.
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