Winter Kills continues the trend of great Devildriver albums but takes the band’s sound back towards The Last Kind Words/Pray For Villains style. This album has a lot more groove then Beast had but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as heavy & brutal as always.
Opener Oath of the Abyss sets out the albums direction with its brooding start before unleashing the bands heaviest side. Dez Fafara’s vocals are at their best on this album & Ruthless showcases this. He almost sounds demonic as he roars ‘fuck you, I’m ruthless’ & this song is going to kill it live, I can see the circle pits now…
Desperate Times speeds forward at a frenzied pace with an absolutely killer chorus, this might be the best song on the album & a stark reminder that Devildriver make some of the most infectious metal songs of any band. The title song, Winter Kills is easily the albums heaviest song & follow up The Appetite doesn’t let up. The energy shown throughout these songs is the album at its most intense.
Gutted shows the excellent use of drums Winter Kills has throughout. They don’t over-shadow the song but you can’t miss the machine gun style here while Curses and Epitaphs show off the guitar side with a wonderfully drawn out introduction before Dez enters with his trademark shouts. His aggression doesn’t let up at any stage.
Carings Overkill has a bit of a disjointed feel about it & is a lot more downbeat while Haunting Refrain opens with a nice little melody that builds up into a top riff, it’s in complete contrast to the song that preceded it & even has an impressive guitar solo midway.
The album signs off with the double header of Tripping Over Tombstones that could have been lifted off Beast for its anger. It’s a short & un-expected end to proceedings but not a bad thing at all. The final song is a surprise as it is a cover of Awolnation’s Sail which Dez heard being played from his son’s bedroom. Devildriver have done covers before but nothing like this…it’s touching on Children of Bodom style but it is a very good song.
If you got the special edition you would have also got 2 bonus tracks…Shudder & Back Down to the Grave both excellent songs that could easily have fitted nicely within the album itself.
An accomplished effort from one of the most consistent metal bands out there. Devildriver continue their fine traditions of releasing great music with bags of potential live. Some songs are better than others hence the 9/10 but there is not a single bad song on this album. It has bundles of groove but retains that brutality of Beast.
Possibly my favourite Devildriver album to date & a strong contender for album of the year.
Devildriver - Winter Kills (Napalm Records)