The first part of a double release (the second half due next year), the latest offering from prolific Californian melodic death metallers DevilDriver finds the band in cathartic form, as each song on the band’s ninth album, Dealing With Demons I (Napalm Records) focuses on a different type of obstacle or demon to be faced and overcome.
Frontman Dez Fafara roars, barks and snarls like a man possessed, backed by the guitar tag team of Mike Spreitzer and Neal Tiemann, and the seriously overworked rhythm section of bassist Diego Ibarra and sticksman Austin D’Amond. Showing more signs of growth and progression while never straying too far from their core sound, the band, clearly happier as a five-piece again, even manage to throw in a surprise or two.
Chunky, angular riffs combine with jangling chords and pinch harmonics on opener ‘Keep Away From Me’. Written about Dez’s ongoing struggle against agoraphobia, the brooding cut simmers with intent, giving a firm nod to Gojira along the way. The fearsome yet melodic ‘Vengeance Is Clear’ follows, while the wickedly dark ‘Nest Of Vipers’ uncoils and strikes with riffs every bit as venomous as the titular reptiles.
The relentless rhythmic charge of ‘Iona’ is replaced by the unexpected twist of ‘Wishing’ where Dez moves into the uncharted territory (for Devildriver) of clean vocals, his doomy, reverb-heavy tones on the moody verses recalling early Black Sabbath. The frontman’s son Simon “Blade” Fafara makes a guest appearance on ‘You Give Me a Reason to Drink’, a choice of title which might raise some amusing questions about their home life. The hokey but thunderous ‘Witches’ is quickly followed by the bludgeoning groove of the impressive title track, and the dark melodrama of ‘The Damned Don’t Cry’ is heightened by a mournful slide guitar lick before the Gojira influence returns on powerful closer ‘Scars Me Forever’.
Neither the angriest nor the heaviest release from the band, Dealing With Demons I is still most definitely a DevilDriver album with bite, just one that moves comfortably into more expressive and open territory.
Buy Dealing With Demons I here: https://smarturl.it/DealingWithDemonsI
7 / 10