Winter Kills

Written by: AP on 28/10/2013 19:52:53

DevilDriver are one of those bands with the capacity to unite the Danish metal fans, who traditionally are adverse to every sub-genre that is not extreme or 'true' in some way. Their amalgamation of groove- and melodic death metal is prototypical in the sense that whether you're into soaring harmonised melodies, mighty breakdowns or blistering thrash, DevilDriver's records offer provisions of them in equal measure. Sixth album "Winter Kills" continues the tradition by and large, though it does send the band even further on the melodic expedition that began on the previous effort "Beast" (2011).

Opening pair "Oath of the Abyss" and "Ruthless" provide the contrast; the former a staccato lead metalcore piece that As I Lay Dying would have no issue laying claim to, the latter laying down a distinctly Lamb of God-ish groove. But the vast majority of songs here, including the atmospheric Unearth-(circa "Darkness in the Light")esque title track and the excellent "Appetite", bust out some serious US interpretations of the Gothenburg palette with various degrees of success. When DevilDriver do get it right, as is the case with these two tracks, the results border on stunning: an unforgettable, unsettling lead riff and chorus "Do you have the appetite? / The expectations to suffice? / Your cups of sorrow filled with spite / I'm begging, I'm begging, I'm begging you." coupling to drill the latter song in particular into my cerebrum with instant effect. "Carings Overkill", with its inspired percussion, ringing bridge melody, and tremolo chorus founded on thundering blastbeats (Gojira comes very quickly to mind here), is another exemplary piece; and the savage "Haunting Refrain", which takes a more experimental avenue than most tracks here and completes that with a clever use of rhyme in its chorus, "Give me the might / Give me the inside insight / Tell me the right way to ignite this night / I see your memory in every face / He's just a haunting refrain", is no less impressive.

Elsewhere though, despite the fact that DevilDriver never lapse too severely from their tried and tested approach, there is little to differentiate one song from another. "Gutted", for instance, insists too much on the importance of a lengthy breakdown, while "Curses and Epitaphs" disfigures a promising start, boasting a curious semblance to Bring Me the Horizon on their most recent "Sempiternal", and end - a magnificent Mike Schleibaum style solo, courtesy of guitarist Mike Spreitzer; with an unimaginative open chord chug verse, which Dez Fafara's infamously monotonous growls do nothing to rescue. But even the weakest tracks on "Winter Kills" could not objectively be said to suck; six albums into their career, DevilDriver seem to know what they're doing, and although that knowledge does not always translate into memorabilia, each song is still earmarked by experience and professional quality. It may not rank among the best albums this year, but "Winter Kills" does provide a steady and solid barrage of mass appeal metal, with clear-cut standout moments acting as anchors.

Download: Winter Kills, The Appetite, Carings Overkill, Haunting Refrain
For the fans of: As I Lay Dying, Heaven Shall Burn, Lamb of God, Unearth
Listen: Facebook

Release date 23.08.2013
Napalm Records

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