Sound — 9
If you want your ass handed to you for 12 songs and roughly an hour, then you've come to the right place with DevilDriver's "Beast," a curled lipped, snarling, saliva-dripping-from-the-chin growler of a record. If you found the world's meanest Rottweiler and bred him with the world's meanest German Shepherd, the product would be a "Beast." DevilDriver have released four albums prior to "Beast," and the band isn't straying from the formula that has worked best, which is guttural vocals, hardened guitars and some of the most thunderous percussion to crawl out of underground metal in ages. We won't make mention of singer Dez Fafara's past, because, really, by the fifth album, why retread, old, tired and forgotten ground? DevilDriver are the here and the now and "Beast" is heavier, burlier and more pissed of than its predecessor, "Pray For Villains," but as memorable as 2007's "The Last Kind Words." It makes you wonder who had the misfortune of pissing off Fafara and company in between albums to cause this Beast to spring forth from the heads. The riffing is merciless, boasts a few Swedish moments (in the form of "Dead to Rights" and "Bring the Fight (To the Floor)." A song like "Hardened" will generate more than its fair share of moshpit "Walls of Death" while "You Make Me Sick" will make you ill if five minutes of metal fury upsets your stomach. Beast consists of mostly five minute, all guns blazing, all fists wailing songs that don't waste time with clean vocals or radio friendly parts. DevilDriver don't have time for that; they are too busy taking your head off. Beast also boasts the band's most dynamic guitar work, as there are lot of intricate sounds and layers that we've not heard on a DevilDriver record in the past. The solos aren't too shabby, either.
Lyrics — 8
While many still remember Fafara for his work in mid-90s nu metal band Coal Chamber, who were incredibly successful, and while we did say we wouldn't rehash old news, it's worth mentioning simply because Fafara is now better known for his work in DevilDriver and rightfully so. On Beast, he isn't apologizing for his rage, taking aim at whomever crosses his path. When he spews venom and screams, "You make me sick" on the track of the same name, you wonder who incited his ire, because it's flowing from a real, p-ssed off place. On "Shitlist," which has a moody, calm-before-the-storm instrumental opening, he barks, "Hate holds me together" and you won't question it because he states it with such conviction. The song's blackened, ultra fast pace and Fafara's hellfire vocals will have little kids crying and the dog burying his face in the couch. In essence, Fafara's exorcising demons like Reagan in "The Exorcist" all through Beast. Singing isn't something he does here; he's on par with Lamb of God's D. Randall Blythe in terms of sheer intensity of delivery.
Overall Impression — 8
"Beast" won't take you on a roller coaster ride of dynamics, as the album, for the most part, cranks the knobs and the odometer to 10 and stays there, save for a few dips and turns. But if you're young, hungry, pissed off, hate living at home, are sick of the bullsh-t that the person you dig hurls your way and work a shitty part-time job at a fast food joint, you're lucky to have an album like "Beast" to lose yourself in. Just give "Talons Out (Teeth Sharpened)" a spin next time the world takes a big shit on you and take comfort in Fafara barking, "Don't let the world beat you down" and "Tape can't mend a broken heart / And some things you just can't fix." With Beast, DevilDriver have elevated themselves to same level as peers like Lamb of God and All That Remains.