Album Review: Devildriver – Dealing With Demons I (Napalm Records)

Respected standard bearers for 21st century metal, Devildriver have spent almost the last two decades pursuing a course of uncompromising artistry and nonsense-free dedication to the road. Led by the prolific Dez Fafara, the Californian crew have earned their reputation as one of the hardest working bands on the planet, while issuing a steady succession of brutal but distinctive albums along the way.

Their focus has remained laser-sharp, and never more so than on the monumental upcoming double album, Dealing With Demons. The first volume of the double album offering – entitled Dealing With Demons I – is set for release on October 2, 2020 via Napalm Records and will be available in several must-have formats. Including CDs, exclusive vinyl in various colours, picture discs, cassette tapes, skateboards, notebooks, clothing and more.

For many, myself included, the height of Devildriver’s groove metal prowess came between 2003 and 2009. The first four albums some of the hottest heavy metal in years. The following 3 albums, while each having individual class and still being solid releases overall, saw the fire petering out somewhat. 2016’s Trust No One was the first times in a while I found I wasn’t as interested in Devildriver as I had been years before (and I really couldn’t get on with the country covers album – Outlaws ‘til the End: Vol.1).

That being said, they are a band I love and respect, so every new release is gone into with fresh ears. This isn’t 2003 and Devildriver have matured, they’re Dealing with Demons and the result is the best thing they’ve done in a decade.

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Ominous and dark, Keep Away from Me begins slowly, preparing you for a knockout explosion of roaring guitars, drums and ferocity from the vocals. A ton of groove but filtered through Devildriver’s infamous ‘take no prisoners’ assault.

Whereas the foot was off the gas somewhat with that opener, that is far from the case with the spitting and snarling Vengeance is Clear and Nest of Vipers. The chunky riffing, touch of melody and feral-like roars from Dez make for a thrilling pairing.

It’s certainly one of the darker sounding Devildriver albums in some time (maybe since Beast) and that is exemplified by the blacker sound of Iona. The guitar tone in particular resonates bleakly through the skull.

The anthemic track, Wishing has Dez delivering clean vocals for the first time in a very long time. Before Simon Blade Fafara helps make You Give Me A Reason to Drink one of the most impactful tracks by sharing vocals duties with his father.

It’s followed by the throwback and least interesting track of the album, Witches before the fire has fuel thrown on it for the ripping and tearing title track. The exorcism of these demons having fully entered destructive and devastating phases.

Part I of this double album wraps up with the very classic hyperactive riffs and beastly percussion combo off The Damned Don’t Cry and Scars Me Forever. The latter, one of the standout tracks as it sprays filthy groove around like a burst sewer pipe and Dez sounds positively possessed. A serious anthem to end a banger of a release.

Where will Dealing with Demons II take us? We’ll have to wait until 2021 to find out. For now, though we have this impressive return to form to enjoy.

Devildriver – Dealing with Demons I Full Track Listing:

1. Keep Away from Me
2. Vengeance Is Clear
3. Nest of Vipers
4. Iona
5. Wishing
6. You Give Me A Reason to Drink (feat. Simon Blade Fafara)
7. Witches
8. Dealing with Demons
9. The Damned Don’t Cry
10. Scars Me Forever


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Devildriver - Dealing With Demons I (Napalm Records)
  • The Final Score - 8.5/10
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