Get ready for some insane heavy tunes by Californian circle-pit masters.
I know it’s a little late to talk about an album launched back in August, but the problem is that I didn’t have time to listen to Winter Kills carefully until now, and to be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of the band and the only DevilDriver album I previously had in my files was the awesome The Last Kind Words. However, I’m starting to enjoy their music more and more, especially among the “new” heavy bands available in the market, and I also noticed I’m not the only one to think like that: DevilDriver has became one of the most accepted new bands by old and demanding headbangers due to its violent lyrics, excellent instrumental and crazy on-stage performance.
The melodic opening track Oath of the Abyss has intense dark lyrics and it’s a good start to the album, albeit not as good as for example Not All Who Wander Are Lost. The following track, Ruthless, is undoubtedly the best song of the album with its amazing riffs, ruthless lyrics (just as the name of the song), and Dez’s voice in this track is as heavy as hell, which by the way is a constant in the entire album. Desperate Times can be used to explain why the mosh pits at any DevilDriver concert are so brutal, while Winter Kills, the title-track, keeps up with the speed and violence and it’s impossible not to get addicted to the chorus. “Mark my words/ There’ll be a change in the guard! / There’s frost on the sill / So now winter kills!”
Another strong track is The Appetite, which despite the stupid vide sounds ideal for crazy mosh pits, and the final solo is awesome. Your appetite for more DevilDriver will just grow after listening to this song. The weakest track of all in my opinion is Gutted: it has an extremely heavy intro, but I didn’t like the rest of it until the end. Curses and Epitaphs is more melodic than the previous tracks, with drummer John Boecklin doing an excellent job behind his set, while Carings Overkill is just filler, not a creative or interesting track at all. The last songs of Winter Kills are terrific: Haunting Refrain has a slow intro that turns into a heavy tune later on, with a magnificent guitar solo; Tripping Over Tombstones is another song that can easily take part on a “circle-pit soundtrack”; and finally Sail, a cover song from the indie band Awolnation, is a billion times better than the original song. The guitars and drums are just perfect!
The bonus tracks are also worth listening to: both Shudder and Back Down to the Grave are pretty heavy, and they even remind me of some songs from In Flames. The front cover is not very original, neither are the lyrics, but everything works fine when put together with the music. Frontman Dez Fafara keeps singing like a wild animal and has a very talented group of musicians with him, producing some high quality material for all generations of metalheads.
In summary, if you hate Facebook, Instagram and cameras during a Heavy Metal concert, you should be listening to this new overpowering album by DevilDriver and getting ready for monstrous circle pits in their next concert in your city. Winter Kills might not be what we call revolution in music, but it will crush your neck for sure.
Best moments of the album: Ruthless, The Appetite and Sail.
Worst moments of the album: Gutted and Carings Overkill.
Released in 2013 Napalm Records
1. Oath of the Abyss 5:36
2. Ruthless 4:09
3. Desperate Times 4:08
4. Winter Kills 4:54
5. The Appetite 4:46
6. Gutted 3:28
7. Curses and Epitaphs 5:04
8. Carings Overkill 4:33
9. Haunting Refrain 4:59
10. Tripping Over Tombstones 3:38
11. Sail (Awolnation cover) 4:04
12. Shudder 4:03
13. Back Down to the Grave 4:44
Dez Fafara – lead vocals
Jeff Kendrick – guitar
John Boecklin – drums
Mike Spreitzer – guitar
Chris Towning – bass