What can you really say about DevilDriver outside of “The nineties called, they want their metal back”? I’m sure there are fans out there who love this band, who love their music and find solace or relief in it. I’m assuming most of those people have never heard Pantera, In Flames or any number of bands who have done this sound and done it better.
It’s not that I hate DevilDriver’s new album Beast, it’s that I just don’t care. There’s nothing on this album that motivates me to do more than skip to the next song, which usually sounds like the one before it. Metal is a fairly repetitive genre and only the best of it stretches those boundaries enough to separate themselves from the pack. Beast is not a record that does this, not on any level.
The songwriting here is so myopic that it becomes almost juvenile. I always come back to a great quote from Alice Cooper: “I get it, you’re angry, where’s the song?” There are no songs on Beast, just screaming and barking over as many rapidly played riffs as one band can cram into one song. I don’t belittle DevilDriver’s musical ability, it’s clear that everybody in the band can play, but, again, who cares? You may be able to solo faster than the speed of light, you may be able to play drums like a thousand cans tied to a Bigfoot being pushed down a steel staircase, but if you can’t put it together into a memorable song, you have nothing. DevilDriver have more technical ability than they can spare but they can’t make it work together.
I’m not saying music that’s written mainly from a technical standpoint can’t work. Rush, Yes, Death, and many other bands focus more on the technical aspect of music but they still craft and create songs. There’s something about what they do that takes the technical stuff and shines it through a prism of originality and emotion. DevilDriver don’t so that, they just keep playing and playing and playing. If the song isn’t a slow intro into fast part then it just kicks off with a break neck speed guitar thrashing. Even the grooves here start to suffer by halfway through the record and any band like this lives and dies by their grooves. I even tried stepping back and looking at this from a strictly head-banging vantage point, but Beast still falls flat.
One of my biggest questions when I receive an album like this is why didn’t anybody say anything? Was there nobody in the studio who couldn’t tell that this was a repetitive album? That the music was derivative to a fault? I suppose DevilDriver have fallen into a niche where they blend so perfectly into their little scene that fans find what they do comforting, almost necessary. I don’t begrudge their fans the love they feel for DevilDriver, I just don’t share in it. Beast is fast, and brutal, with screams and solos and riff upon riff that combine into a furious heavy metal rage. Sadly, at the end of the day, it just never becomes more than that.
CRAVEONLINE RATING 4 OUT OF 10