The first time I heard the name DevilDriver, I was told they were “like a low-budget Five Finger Death Punch”. After listening to Dealing With Demons I, a statement more wrong probably doesn’t exist. Mainly because they’re neither low-budget nor sound anything like FFDP. What does inspire confidence is this being DevilDriver’s first in four years which features new material and a follow-up second part due next year.
As Dez Fafara confronts issues from his own life and the world at large, this is him drawing his line in the sand and simultaneously showing the world what DevilDriver is in 2020. Unsurprisingly, what they are in 2020 is what’s allowed them to continue making records for the best part of twenty years – relevance. Sonically, this feels like a band forming in 2020 but there’s an undercurrent of staying true to themselves, even if Fafara is the only remaining member from that time.
Immediately, you can tell where the band’s origins are with its shiny American metal feel and laces in a punk attitude. By the mid-way point of the album, it’s unlikely the album will have gone over your head – mainly because DevilDriver make a point of beating it into you. But hell, it’s worked for so many other bands before them, why not add them to the pile? Here, it’s put a bunch of neck-snapping drum work on top of duelling riffs and make sure they’re good but similar to everything else on the album. If the point of the album was to make a DevilDriver album for pre-existing DevilDriver fans, then give them top marks.
Comprised of short, punchy tracks to the point where a handful of numbers could easily have continued and I wouldn’t have grumbled, nothing comes at you left-field. While they stop suddenly and it’s straight into the next, it feels like this is metal for the Spotify generation. Each song captures your attention but once you’re into the next one, you’ve forgotten the previous track.
Dealing With Demons I is a serviceable, if a little samey, album – it tells you what you need to know about DevilDriver as a newcomer and it’s a good listen but it never gets fully going to encourage you to delve into the back catalogue or to even stick this one on repeat. However, I’d wager when paired with its second part, this will function better as a more complete work – as a full double album. Or perhaps take out the slightly weaker tracks from both to make a slightly longer but superior album.
Header image: Stephanie Cabral
Dealing With Demons I is released on 9th October