Winter kills but it also tests our mettle (metal?). By now we all know the phrase “winter is coming” as a reminder to brace for whatever life brings. DevilDriver kind of embody this in a metal sense in that album after album they do what they do, nose to the grindstone, take it or leave it. Consistent drive and resolve in the face of time’s march is the hallmark of what makes a lasting metal band (with the odd Cold Lake or Risk in some band’s discographies).
In horror movies you have your low level classics like Ghoulies and you have your engorged Hollywood level Rob Zombie Halloween remakes. If DevilDriver were a horror movie they would be somewhere in between (Maybe a Gremlins 2 : The New Batch?). Pretty well known but still kind of a cult classic. DevilDriver are not as acclaimed or favored with the “street cred” of Lamb of God, if certainly as heavy sometimes. Nonetheless, DevilDriver are one of the biggest bands in metal. Pre-“FREE RANDY”, Dez Fafara had more mainstream crossover name recognition due to his time in Coal Chamber, maybe? I dunno. Despite Coal Chamber’s powerful Download return (watch this pit for “Sway” on Youtube), Nu Metal is still the once loved but still discarded lingerie in the corner no one wants to get caught sniffing anymore (I still say Dark Days was underrated and the best CC album).
Anyway, Winter Kills proves that regardless of past trends, DevilDriver should be judged on their own merit.
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I am a fan of great bands like My Ruin or Unearth who keep chugging along, releasing stellar shit to whatever accolades they garner. Doing it for the love and the fans but also putting their all into quality product. I hate when bands break up, like God Forbid or The Chariot recently. I can’t take anything away from them but those were two bands I thought were around for the long haul. They both toured and worked it so hard. I guess everyone burns out on it at some point., but I gotta hand it to Dez and one time rivals Sevendust in that they have kept chugging along show after show.
On to the new album (first for the awesome Napalm Records, a much better home for DD). “Ruthless” is a killer track that starts atmospheric with rhythmic space like a faster “Eulogy” by Tool for all of ten seconds before a Soulfly-style shifting march kicks in. California Groove is back. Some of this is not far afield of some of the type of fast as fuck brutality The Black Dahlia Murder did on their recent “Map Of Scars” from their killer slab Everblack. I wanna see THAT tour.
“Tripping Over Tombstones” is the “Clouds Over California” of this release, not so much in style but in that it’s maybe the best song and the coolest song title here that will kind of morbidly stick in your craw.
Now for the production:
The production went so far over budget that it was shut down three times and declared bankruptcy. The film had been produced by two wealthy marijuana dealers — Robert Sterling and Leonard Goldberg. Goldberg was murdered by the mafia in the middle of production, for failure to pay his debts, and Sterling was later sentenced to 40 years in prison for marijuana smuggling. Richert and much of the cast went to Germany and filmed a comedy called The American Success Company which made enough money to fund a resumption of Winter Kills two years later.
Ooops, sorry. My bad. That was from Wikipedia for the 1979 film of the same name. DD’s Winter Kills was done by Mark Lewis who did Beast and Last kind Words. He really seems to get the band and has firmly helped set their feet in the metal concrete. Ryan Clark of Invisible Creatures/Demon Hunter handled the artwork, the coolest cover yet for this band. Pretty much every song delivers here. If you weren’t a fan before I don’t know what to tell you. Go fuck yourself? Haha. “Haunting Refrain” is reason alone why this album should be respected and perhaps be in most metal collections. A very impressive and moving intro explodes into pure aggression that will destroy live settings and rally any heavy rock fan base crowd.
This is a release that you will find yourself easily listening to to fill a mandatory aggression void. Solid all throughout and not the most experimental thing ever, but just good, heavy shirt.