ALBUM REVIEW: DEVILDRIVER’S THE LAST KIND WORDS
It has come to my attention that there are still some people who haven’t given DevilDriver a chance because lead singer Dez Fafara used to be in Coal Chamber. And while I hate Coal Chamber as much as the next guy, I just gotta say to these people: dudes, you are missing out. The Last Kind Words is by no means a revolutionary album – it’s not even that different from other DevilDriver albums, actually – but it is a really good album, full of blistering, brutal music that never sacrifices hooks for bombast; as a matter of fact, it’s difficult to imagine any fan of the American New Wave won’t love it.
In actuality, the album may as well have been called The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand Part II – the only thing that really passes for artistic advancement from the band’s prior output is an increase in Swedish-style guitar pyrotechnics; in fact, the band seems to have let their already heavy Swedish influence really come to the forefront of their music here (“These Fighting Words” seems particularly In Flamesish) – not that lots of solos and dual guitar harmonizing is anything to complain about. But anyone hoping for a Chimaira-sized leap (or even a Lamb of God-sized hop) forward is going to be disappointed; frankly, I’m not even entirely convinced that the songwriting here is any better than it was on Fury – and the sequencing of the songs is a real problem, since the best tracks, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” and “Clouds Over California,” are also the first ones on the disc.
None of this is to say that the album isn’t actually really, really good; the band still specializes in the same crushing, breakdown-laden music to murder by as always. Dez’s Peter Tägtgren-style death growls are as ghoulish as ever, and the aforementioned shred-offs between guitarists Mike Spreitzer and Jeffrey Kendrick are incredibly well handled (just compare it to the soloing on the most recent Darkest Hour release – theoretically everyone is going for the same effect, but Darkest Hour’s axemen never figured out a way to sound anything but generic). It’s just that at a time when so many of DevilDriver’s peers are making music that is increasingly accomplished with each release, to see this band’s development remain so static is, well… let’s just say that DevilDriver remain a band that is exactly as successful as they deserve to be. Take that as you will.
Still, plenty of bands have made fine careers pretty much doing the same thing for years on end (AC/DC and, uh, Slayer both come to mind), and this album should, at the very least, put all those cries of “Korn Chamber” to bed once and for all. Even if The Last Kind Words isn’t the staggering masterpiece we were hoping for, it’s still a damn fine piece of work, worthy of your attention and respect.
(four out five horns)