Sound — 7
DevilDriver drive home a collection of new hard hitting anthems with their recently released studio album, "Winter Kills." DevilDriver first made an impact on the heavy metal music scene back in 2003 with their self-titled debut and included several of the band's now signature songs, such as "Nothing's Wrong?" and "I Could Care Less": both of which found extensive airplay on Headbangers Ball and helped the DevilDriver reach a large audience within the United States. Since the release of their debut, DevilDriver have been regularly issuing new albums to satisfy the palate of heavy metal fans. "Winter Kills" marks the sixth studio album in the band's catalogue, and shows the metal group continuing in their same signature direction as showcased in DevilDriver's previous releases.
Jeff Kendrick doesn't once ease up on his distortion pedal, as each song is coated in traditional crunching guitar riffs which stay true to both Jeff's established style and the heavy metal genre. Songs such as "Ruthless" are built around these same guitar riffs, and begin with some attention grabbing primal screams from lead vocalist Dez Fafara (formerly of the band Coal Chamber). Dez then sets into a comfortable pace by chanting out the lyrics to the song. Other tracks, such as "The Appetite," feature heart racing percussion beats and shows DevilDriver moving into a more significant melodic death metal style.
"Winter Kills" also features a surprising cover of indie rock group Awolnation's "Sail." The original version was mostly electronic notes put to a pulsating rhythm and some interesting vocal work. DevilDriver take this originally dull song and completely transform it with classical flavored guitar soloings and some enjoyable tempo changes. DevilDriver did such a noteworthy job at covering this song that you hear nearly no resemblance to the original; the band truly made this song their own, as a proper cover song should. Throughout the entire album, DevilDriver remain at the top of their game, rarely straying away from the style that first made them unique and it works out in the band's favor.
Lyrics — 8
Lead vocalist Dez Fafara continues to give the same powerful performance that he first started issuing both on stage and in the studio nearly two decades ago. It's difficult for a heavy metal vocalist, whose lyrical delivery is based largely around passionate screaming, to go out each night and give the same raging performance they originally gave on the studio versions. It can very easily and quickly take an apparent toll; thankfully for DevilDriver fans this is not the case with Dez Fafara. His vocals are as strong, if not stronger, than they were on the 1997 self-titled debut album of Coal Chamber, which is one of the better qualities that is proudly featured in "Winter Kills."
Overall Impression — 8
After six studio albums, DevilDriver have no intention of slowing down, changing up their signature style, or experimenting with different musical genres. What we have with "Winter Kills" is an album filled to the brim with captivating guitar playing, passionate lead vocals, rocketing percussion work and pace setting bass handling that no matter how standout, somehow find a way to coexist and make for some standout music. This is an album that comes highly recommended to any established DevilDriver fan, who should have no problem in popping the CD into their player and turning the volume up to 11.