What can I say about "Winter Kills", the latest release from "Devildriver", except "holy crap!". These guys are really pissed off. "Winter Kills" is heavy handed, aggressive and at times, dare I say, even melodic. I listened to this album while attempting to do some household chores and damn near put a lamp through the window and kicked over the couch.
"Winter Kills" is the sixth studio effort from "Devildriver" and the first since departing from Roadrunner records. The guitars are dynamic and the rhythms chug along like my friend Dave's big-block Nova idling (for you non-motorheads, that's good). I guess one could file this record under so-called "groove metal" with some elements of death metal but there's more to "Devildriver's" sound than that. The quality of the production is superb while the music is forceful, deliberate and intentionally brutal.
"Ruthless" is the title of the second track and could just as easily been the name of the album. This is by far my favorite song. It is vigorous, energetic and powerful. Dez Fafara's vocals are downright destructive. "Face down in the mud/ fuck you I'm ruthless". This is the kind of song that helps you shake the cobwebs loose.
The title track, "Winter Kills", is where I really began to notice the work of drummer John Boecklin. Metal, all too often, focuses on the work of the guitar players and the vocalist but don't overlook the drummer on this one. Not only does Boecklin have an excellent drum sound but his playing is outstanding. He adds a subtlety to the beat that keeps the song from being a predictable, double-kick fest while still pounding the point home.
Bass player Chris Towning is a new addition to "Devildriver" for this album joining the aforementioned Fafara and Boecklin and guitarists Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer. Together they have created music that is fast, hard and strenuous. And, man, it's really good.
The record continues in this vein with songs like "Gutted", "Curses and Epitaphs" and "Tripping Over Tombstones" which has the distinction of being the grooviest groove-metal song on the album.
And then, just when I thought "Winter Kills" was all pissed off aggression, I found a special treat. "Devildriver" ends the record with a slamming cover of "Awolnation's" "Sail" (also covered by Macy Gray for those of you keeping score at home). An interesting choice done well.
At the beginning of this review I said, "what can I say about "Winter Kills"..." and I'm still not sure. The whole review could have been, ""Winter Kills" - holy crap!- that is all". This is an excellent album. "Devildriver" has set out to create a record which is both powerful and free and I believe they have achieved their goal. I do have some advice, though. Be careful listening to "Winter Kills" while driving, eating, studying, doing yoga or household chores. You may end up having a problem containing your aggression. Enjoy and good luck.