It seems that DevilDriver aren’t keen on doing anything by halves anymore. Even if there was an overriding novelty factor to it, 2018’s ‘Outlaws ‘Til The End, Vol. 1’ was an interesting and well-executed idea.
For their next studio release, they’ve given us one half of a double album, with the second half due to follow at some point in 2021. Very much centred around personal themes, ‘Dealing With Demons I’ is the first instalment.
With the album being described as purging a different demon per song, so to speak, it’s important to keep this in mind.
After a clean guitar intro, ‘Keep Away From Me’ comes with a hulky intro, complete with crushing riffs. To be expected, we have an all-encompassing vocal performance from Dez Fafara; he mostly deals in a powerful growl throughout most of the album, with some un-ignorable, high range shouts sitting nicely over everything.
‘Vengeance Is Clear’ also sees memorable riffs being brought to the fold, with the vulnerable lyrical themes made all the more potent with some powerful screams, which Fafara makes seem easy to do. ‘Nest Of Vipers’ features an eerie sounding guitar riff to open the song, which is later brought back to sound ten times more intense, shining further light on the band’s prowess.
‘Iona’ is perhaps one of the best songs on the album, with undeniable energy, and the band operating as a well-oiled machine to bring riffs and a rip-roaring solo, and the vocal hooks dominate proceedings more than ever on this song.
‘Wishing’ offers a slight deviation, and Fafara‘s switch to a rare use of clean vocals for the verses make for a different mood compared to what’s come before, with the sombre themes amplified even more – fitting for a song about grieving the loss of loved ones.
Yet, despite the overall themes of this album, they don’t drive this release towards being a gloomy record to mope to, and DevilDriver‘s signature stamp is quickly retained. ‘You Give Me A Reason To Drink’ is another immediate head banging number, and the title-track is an avalanche of chugged riffs delivered to perfection. ‘The Damned Don’t Cry’ and ‘Scars Me Forever’ are further signs of DevilDriver‘s high standards, with the latter making for a particularly poignant ending.
There’s not much to this record musically other than bringing pummelling, powerful groove metal, but it’s very much an enjoyable first part, and even a little more variety in the second half wouldn’t go amiss. Nevertheless, ‘Dealing With Demons I’ shows that DevilDriver still remain one of the go-to bands if you want some no-nonsense groove metal that packs a punch.