Sound — 9
DevilDriver are on their fourth album and they've certainly developed and cemented a signature sound with Pray for Villains. If you want to run through a checklist, fine. Gargled-with-razorblades-and-sewage vocals? Check. Pulse-quickening riffs packed with crunchy noise? Yep, those are here. Thunderous drumming that undoubtedly nails the band's musical backbone down to the floor? Oh hell yeah and it's safe to say that drummer John Boecklin is the mechanism that makes the band tick, that makes DevilDriver go. His beats are nothing short of detonated bombs going off in rapid-fire succession. DevilDriver have all the necessary qualities that comprise a solid metal band and album. The band hasn't thrown the rage to the wayside on Villains nor have they lost a step. It's plain and simple metal; there's no trace of trends, such as quiet-loud dynamics or a stringing together of parts. The metal wheel or steel- isn't being reinvented here, but that's not really DevilDriver's intention, either. Quality metal that impacts like a billion left hooks to the jaw is! Want your brain to feel like a pinball? Then put your volume to its highest setting for the blackened, groove-tastic Pure Sincerity, the slightly punk rock influenced and musically interesting Fate Stepped In or the title track. Back With a Vengeance serves as the album's most audible anthem, while Fate Stepped In has intricate guitar work about three minutes into the song and it's unlike anything the band has ever done. A real step up, for sure!
Lyrics — 8
There's a bit of a renegade theme to Pray for Villains, with songs titles like Forgiveness is a Six-Gun. For the first time in DevilDriver's history, vocalist Dez Fafara, who shot to fame in nu metal superstars Coal Chamber in the late 1990s, enunciates and his lyrics are clearer and more discernible. You can actually understand what he is saying without having to yank out the lyrics sheet or booklet. His phlegmy vocals are as enraged as ever, as he spews dude'ish subjects; that is, he's all about releasing the demons and getting the testosterone out. Vengeance, sobriety, the open road and not seeing the last o' me are common lyrical touch points and they fit the album's tone and texture. There's a unifying, ominous thread to the lyrical bend and subject matter.
Overall Impression — 8
Again, DevilDriver aren't hypertech nor are they are hybrid band seeking to be everything to everyone. Rather, they have a singular goal to craft eye of the tiger metal. It may be mirthless music and really, what metal isn't a little bit on the dark side? but it's certainly an excellent candidate for background music when working out like a fiend. DevilDriver have definitely doled out another slab of meat and potatoes metal.