Devildriver to me have always been considered one of the ‘gateway’ bands for access to heavier music, once upon a time ago I was presented with 2007’s ‘The last Kind Words’ and it paved the way for my interest in extreme music. Six years and two records later Devildriver are back with their brand new record entitled ‘Winter Kills’. Does this new offering continue the slick groove found in Devildriver’s music or does it fall short on expectations?
One thing is certain with ‘Winter Kills’ there is plenty of slick grooves and intricate guitar play to keep one certainly entertained throughout. Devildriver built their name and reputation on offering breathtaking guitar solos, and consistent riff mastery and groove all reinforced with frontman Dez Fafara’s iconic vocal style. For example the excellent solos and twin guitar play performed by Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer that were so ever present on ‘The Last Kind Words’ return on ‘Winter Kills’; ‘Curses and Epitaphs’ features an extensive closing solo that bears so much resemblance to earlier material and ‘Gutted’ features slamming riffs that just encourage heads to bang.
Before ‘Winter Kills’ was released Devildriver did release two tracks from the album in order to build anticipation for the record release, ‘Ruthless’ and ‘The Appetite’ were the two tracks in question. However these two tracks are easily the weakest tracks from ‘Winter Kills’. ‘Ruthless’ is your standard bog of the mill track that you can now expect from Devildriver that was so ever present on 2011’s ‘Beast’ and ‘The Appetite’ whilst significantly better than ‘Ruthless’ does lack that special hook that made Devildriver’s earlier records such titans in the groove metal genre.
This leads to another point I have to make about ‘Winter Kills’. You know from the offset that it’s a Devildriver record. Everything you have come to expect from the American groove lords is present here, from consistent riffs, to steady consistent drum work and roaring vocals throughout. Now that is certainly not a bad thing as if the formula isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Right?!
Devildriver have brought another consistent and solid record to the table. As record number six, it certainly maintains the musical quality the band have established since their formation 11 years ago. Whilst significantly better than 2011’s ‘Beast’ ‘Winter Kills’ does not rise to the same immense high standards of quality like 2005’s ‘The Fury of our Maker’s Hands’ and 2007’s ‘The Last Kind Words. That said though, ‘Winter Kills’ is still a solid release from Devildriver providing plenty of fresh groove and riffs to encourage a good dose of whiplash.