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DEVILDRIVER Dealing With Demons I

By Francisco Zamudio, Metal X Candy 2.0
Friday, October 9, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

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Dealing With Demons I

Napalm Records

One vocalist that stood out to me during the Nu-Metal era was Santa Barbara’s own Dez Fafara. He was one of very few vocalists who took a more aggressive approach in his vocal style. Eventually he would go out on a limb and went on to create DEVILDRIVER who would become one of few California based bands to represent the New Wave of American (Heavy) Metal and the SoCal Groove Metal scene. I remember the first time I ever knew anything about them is when I went to go see SUPERJOINT RITUAL and saw their poster up on the pillars at the (now absent) Key Club in Hollywood. The crowd was crazy pumped for DEVILDRIVER and being a big COAL CHAMBER fan at the time, I was really interested to hear this new project fronted by Fafara. Needless to say I was blown away and been a fan ever since. Their self-titled debut got constant play and "HOLD BACK THE DAY" (THE FURY OF OUR MAKERS HAND, 2005 – RoadRunner Records) is totally a fun song to play, and BEAST (2011) is an underrated record. Now 17 years later, Fafara and Mike Spreitzer, the last of the nearly original line-up, return with DEALING WITH DEMONS I in a two part release full of original material that will demonstrate a new era for the band.

This new page in DEVILDRIVER’s story is crossing new boundaries, as Mike would describe in an interview I had with him recently about the new album. The songs on DEALING WITH DEMONS I don’t carry as much of that fast and modern thrash feel that some of their style consisted of. The music is more laid back and much more on the groove side of things than their prior releases. This could lead one to believe that Volume 2 of DEALING WITH DEMONS will be quite the opposite and lays into the faster, thrashier side of their style. Another new and interesting approach was the varying guitar tones used on this album. As Spreitzer describes in our conversation, a different guitar tone was used for practically every song. This new approach suggested by Producer/Engineer Steve Evetts was nearly subtle on the album. Overall it has a bit of a darker feel to it as the opener "KEEP AWAY FROM ME" would indicate, and a great song too. It also seems that they delved deeper into some odd-tempo rhythms with songs like "VENGEANCE IS CLEAR" and "THE DAMNED DON’T CRY". The melody is quite hypnotic on "NEST OF VIPERS", a song that was one of three videos to hype up the newcoming. The swinging feel and different vocal approach Dez takes on "WISHING" shows you the versatility this album has and new ground take as a band. "YOU GIVE ME REASON TO DRINK" is a non-stop headbanger on an album that keeps that groove in groove-metal interesting.

This album was a close and intimate look into Dez’s perspective in life and his experiences. A lot of subject matter that will establish a connection with fans who feel they can relate. A characteristic in music, and any art really, that is very admirable (check out his track by track breakdown on the Napalm Records YouTube channel). There aren’t many survivors from the Nu-Metal era. Those that did went on to have great success and there was a great divide between them and the others that never amounted to much more. Individually, some artists went on to other projects, went on to bigger and better things and those were few and far between. Dez Fafara has demonstrated to be a survivor and as DEALING WITH DEMONS I would show you, he knows how to control that rage and channel it into some great music with the help of a greatly evolved lineup. Spreitzer and Neil Tiemann got their guitar work locked in tight, along with Diego Ibarra and Austin D’Amond on bass and drums (respectively) producing some great new music with a slightly different and more versatile identity for the band.

Be sure to listen to my interview with guitarist Mike Spreitzer as he talks about the new record and the evolution in songwriting and as a band.

4.0 Out Of 5.0

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