Devildriver - _Pray for Villains_
(Roadrunner Records, 2009)
by: Jackie Smit (7 out of 10)
Spare a thought for poor old Dez Fafarra. Consorting with the likes of Coal Chamber means that, in likelihood, he will be tarred with the nu metal brush for the remainder of his existence, no matter how hard he tries to convince the sceptics otherwise. He's certainly been giving it his level best. Devildriver's debut was a thoroughly entertaining slab of groove-orientated modern metal -- kind of like the last Rambo movie played over grinding guitars and a whir of double-bass drumming. It wasn't particularly smart, but it packed a solid left hook to the kisser and sounded a heck of a lot more unique than many of the band's peers. Its successors, 2005's _The Fury of Our Maker's Hand_ and _The Last Kind Words_ two years later, didn't pack quite the same clout, thanks in no small part to the quintet opting to show off their melodic sensibilities in a transparent bid to gain cred with those stern faces in the underground who had written off their debut.

Curiously, _Pray for Villains_ sits somewhere between the Devildriver's first and subsequent releases; an album of two halves in more ways than one. The dual onslaught of "Pure Sincerity" and "Fate Stepped In" leave no doubt that when these boys want to do aggressive, they have the potential to be a bona fide force of nature. Crafted around battering grooves and hooky choruses, this is testosterone-addled metal at its finest -- the kind that makes you want to go double the speed limit or simply just fuck shit up. It shows off the band at their most mature and polished, even if the chorus on "Back With a Vengeance" suggests that they're a long way off working through all of their youthful angst. No sooner have they got your head bobbing however, for what Devildriver revert back to their melodic death metal stylings. "Resurrection Boulevard" and "It's in the Cards" both sound like they're just trying a little too hard to be timeless hits with the In Flames crowd, while "Teach Me to Whisper" is just plain old lame. A few bright blips aside (most notably in the shape of "Bitter Pill"), the album's second act recycles ideas that should have been laid to rest for good years ago.

Still, it doesn't take away from the fact that when _Pray for Villains_ is on, it's a monster. If Dez Fafarra meant the halfway split in styles (which I should add, is not quite as pronounced as I may be making it sound here) to serve as a platform from whence fans could choose which creative highway the band should travel down in the future, then I'd suggest we all log on to the blogs and the forums and start making our opinions heard. Devildriver pull off the muscular stuff like Arnie in his prime. Sensitive or indeed sensible they most certainly are not.


(article published 5/7/2009)

6/20/2005 J Smit 8 Devildriver - The Fury of Our Maker's Hand
6/11/2008 A Lineker Opeth / Arch Enemy / Devildriver / 3 Inches of Blood Before the Watershed
1/2/2006 J Smit Lamb of God / Devildriver / The Agony Scene Far Beyond Metal
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