DevilDriver - The Fury Of Our Maker's Hand - Roadrunner Records 2005
12 Songs
Running Time: 51:22

You
could've put all the good parts of DevilDriver's debut on the head of a pin, and still had room for a mosh pit. That was no secret to anyone I came into contact with. As it happens, though, early this year I had the chance to interview Dez. I thought to myself, "Great! Just what my site needs! An industry-bloated ex-member of a band I wouldn't walk across the street to put out if they were on fire.". In our conversation, though, Dez turned out to be not only approachable, but honest, sincere, and forthcoming. He took my opinion of the debut, and explained away a good portion of my reservations without shifting blame to others. I'm not sure, after getting to know the man, that there was anything to "blame" him for in the first place. At any rate, the main topic of our discussion was the new DevilDriver, which he was in the ending stages of mixing with Colin Richardson. The energy and excitement was evident even through the phone, and I found myself looking forward to this release with baited breath. And thus...

When the harmonics beginning 'End Of The Line' were broadsided by early Dark Tranquillity arpeggios, which then crashed into a double-bass-driven assault (yes, assault), with Dez's multi-dimensional vocals spitting out the first verse like the words were poison, I knew this wasn't anywhere near the DevilDriver I'd expected. "Sure,", I thought to myself. "anyone can write one good song. Can they keep it up?". Well, turns out they can. Spot-on dual leads carry much of 'Driving Down The Darkness' into older Soilwork territory (you know, back when they were good?), and again, Dez's delivery twists itself one moment around an Anselmo-like grunt, only to follow with a dry, parched wail. The Fury... wouldn't have been an album on Roadrunner without one "Fuck you for fucking me over."song, and 'Grinfucked' seems to be the one. It does flirt with the more accessible sounds of the first album, but works for what it is, nonetheless. DevilDriver 2005 are a band that knows the value of dynamics in a song, as can be heard in one of my favourites, 'Hold Back The Day'. Black metal riffs via latter-day Satyricon coil around a rhythm that just "feels" dirty, neither one ever gaining complete control of the song, which works to its advantage. Everything seems stepped up for this second album, be it the heaviness, the melody, or the blind rage. Think of the transition Pantera experienced between Cowboys From Hell and Vulgar Display Of Power, and you have some idea of a starting point for the consideration of The Fury... . For this album, Fafara has pulled DevilDriver as far away from the corpse of his former projects (including the first album) as he could, yet still have it not seem like a major stylistic shift, or a grab for quick cash. The rabid execution of 'Ripped Apart' shows more vigor in the opening thirty seconds than Six Feet Under has in their whole sorry career, and the political undertones of 'Pale Horse Apocalypse' are undeniable, given the current state of our country's rusting infrastructure. Lyrically, 'Just Run' loses alot of momentum with its cliched "The grass is always greener on the other side / No one here gets out alive.", but does reveal a man in search of something to hold onto with "I've got faith on my side.". Musically, 'Just Run' is somewhat saved by the frantic blitz of the intro and chorus, but it's not enough to save the song. There's a slight Bay-area feel to the main riff of 'Impending Disaster', but the "I really, really love black metal" rasp of Dez forces one to imagine Machine Head with Satyr on guest vocals. It doesn't work for me, plain and simple. DevilDriver seems to realize this, and yanks itself up by the bootstraps for the near-blastbeat fills and speed-staccato riffwork of 'Bear Witness Unto'. Something in the groove of 'Before The Hangman's Noose' just begs to be the closer in a live setting, taking the best elements from the past 40+ minutes, and cramming them into one frenzied ball of a metallic deathwish, snidely laughing its way to the gallows. The title track ends things here, and is the only song in which we hear Dez's previously relied-heavily-upon clean vocals (and then very briefly). Myself, I'd like to hear a more somber, truly acoustic song on the next one, just to totally fuck with our heads. As it is, 'The Fury Of Our Maker's Hand' rocks in the same way as does Frozen-era Sentenced, and provides a diverse ending to an album that's been pretty much locked and loaded from the first song.

I can hear everyone who once respected my opinion on all things metallic calling me out for giving this anything like a positive (much less a glowing) review. You know what? Listen to the damn thing, and quit all your scene posturing. Forget the past and move the fuck on. That's what this album's all about for DevilDriver, and I, for one, think they succeeded.

www.devildriver.com


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