Written by: AP on 31/07/2011 22:36:55

Santa Barbara, CA based DevilDriver are one of the more reliable purveyors of blue collar metal on the stateside, alongside Chimaira, Lamb of God and Sepultura. Though under constant suspicion of being insufficiently aggressive at heart given vocalist Dez Fafara's former dealings with the late nu-metal band Coal Chamber, DevilDriver once again blast the notion to smithereens in less than five minutes with "Dead to Rights", the opening assault off the band's latest album, "Beast".

The outright ire of the thing is at first overwhelming, and since curiously intriguing as it becomes evident that "Beast" is hardly the one trick pony critics of the band have accused it of being. But as with many albums hard and heavy at heart, the rewards are not immediate: it takes careful listening and dissection at first to unearth the formidable rhythm section of "Hardened", digest the funk stylings of "Shitlist", and to come to terms with the soul-sucking malevolence of "You Make Me Sick" and "Coldblooded". While perhaps not in line with the familiar muscle-bound style usually ascribed to DevilDriver, songs like these are the reason for the band's resounding success: featuring an abundance of innovative riffs and melodies, imaginative percussion patterns and fine touches of atmosphere, these are so much more than just anthems for the moshpit - they're the mark of a band willing to expand its musical horizon without compromise.

Fans of a simpler no-frills approach are not left disappointed either though. "Bring the Fight (to the Floor)", "Talons Out (Teeth Sharpened)" and "Blur" all offer reassuring salvos of cold, hard metal by way of muscular double pedal drumming, ill-boding riffs and general belligerence. But daring to infuse playful elements to their sound, as exemplified by the effervescent intro of "The Blame Game" and the inclusion of a 90's Americana cover originally performed by 16 Horsepower ("Black Soul Choir"), is what separates "Beast" from the wealth of other blue collar metal releases thrown at us on a monthly basis. DevilDriver are accomplished songsmiths, and it shows.

If the willingness to branch out and experiment showcased here constitutes a failure by DevilDriver to please its most hardened fans, then it is my humble opinion - one undoubtedly shared by the band - that said fans would be better off settling with a band like Betzefer, whose approach never sways from the prescribed doctrine. Those looking to genuinely be impressed by a band most often referred to merely as aggressive and nothing more, however, are likely to feel rewarded by the wealth of ideas DevilDriver is toying with on "Beast". Coupled with the consistency and flawless structure of the album, this determination to always push the envelope is likely to slingshot DevilDriver into even more mainstream success.


Download: Shitlist, You Make Me Sick, The Blame Game, Black Soul Choir, Lend Myself to the Night
For the fans of: Chimaira, Lamb of God, Sepultura
Listen: Myspace

Release date 21.02.2011
Roadrunner Records

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