Saturday, 25 June 2016

Revisiting Bands - DevilDriver

This is another one of those Revisiting Bands blogs because the last one was so popular, they demanded another. Okay that didn’t happen, I just like writing these things from time to time and this particular series allows me to listen to music while writing which is always a good thing. Last time, I posted about Deftones – a band who I am not a fan of (although I found I like them a lot more than I thought I did). This time, I am going a slightly different route and posting about a band who I used to love, that as time has progressed, I’ve found myself going off. More information about my relationship with Devildriver will appear in the next paragraph.

My Relationship with Devildriver. I was introduced to Devildriver back in 2005/6 by a girl I had a crush on at the time. She told me I should listen to them and I probably would have listened to anything had she asked me to. As it happens, she sent me a video of Devildriver playing End Of The Line – I knew nothing of this band and this song, especially performed live, blew me away. I needed to know more about this band and found out this song was on an album called The Fury Of Our Maker’s Hand which came out in 2005. I went and got it and it was love at first listen – the album is superb (more on that later). I went back and listened to their debut album which I also loved. I saw them live for the first time not long after at Download 2006 and they were one of the best bands I saw that weekend. I continued to see them live over the years and I didn’t have a bad story from seeing them live (aside from when there was train related troubles when I went to see them in London). I liked the albums they were releasing but they were becoming forgettable. I saw them play a really short headline set in Southampton where, to be blunt, they picked a really strong support bill and could not compete. Since that night, I have somewhat gone off them and find myself now skipping their songs when they come on when I listen to a playlist on shuffle. I am yet to hear their latest release and will do so for this blog. I used to love Devildriver, and now I don’t listen to them. I think the first part of this blog, the first two albums at least, could be a lot of fun.

DEVILDRIVER (2003) – The start of Devildriver’s self-titled album is massive, with Nothings Wrong?, and I Could Care Less. When thinking back on this album, I couldn’t think of any songs I thought were weak. On reflection, the first one is 3 tracks in. Die (And Die Now) is not even close to being as good as the first two songs. I Dreamed I Died gets things back on track. It’s a bit good. Cry for Me Sky (Eulogy of the Scorned) is probably my favourite song from this album. I’ve never been able to work out why the Eulogy of the Scorned bit is in the title mind. The Mountain is another good song. Knee Deep is alright at best. Probably in the same realms as Die (And Die Now). What Does It Take (To Be a Man) is another song that doesn’t do a whole lot for me. Swinging The Dead is a great song. Revelation Machine is alright. It is not amongst the better songs on this album but is better than the worst songs on the album. Meet The Wretched is amongst the best though, excellent song. The album closes on Devil’s Son which is alright. Revisiting this album reaffirmed that I like the better songs on this album, however had you asked me before this sitting how many weaker tracks there are on it, I would have said 1 or 2, not 4 or 5.
Album MVP – Cry For Me Sky
Also Recommended – Meet The Wretched, I Could Care Less.

THE FURY OF OUR MAKER’S HAND (2005) – I’m not sure if I chose this band to try and rekindle my love for them, or to just to have an excuse to listen to this album again. Regardless, it opens with End Of The Line – the song which introduced me to Devildriver – and it is quite a statement of intent. The next 3 songs, Driving Down The Darkness, Grinfucked (why do people think metal fans are less intelligent by the way?) and Hold Back The Day are all great songs. The run of songs from Sin & Sacrifice to Bear Witness Unto are all solid songs – sure not as good as the first four I’d say but still very good. The final two songs, Before The Hangman’s Noose and the title track are as good as the first four songs. There is not a weak song on this album and it is still my favourite of theirs.
Album MVP – The End Of The Line
Also Recommended – The Fury Of Our Maker’s Hand, Driving Down The Darkness.

THE LAST KIND WORDS (2007) – One thing you can say about Devildriver’s first three albums is they sure do start well. Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost into Clouds Over California and Bound By The Moon? Belting start. Horn of Betrayal and These Fighting Words are alright. Head On To Heartache was the focal point of an EP that Devildriver released between this album and their next album (this song and B-Sides and bonus songs). This song again is alright but having re-listened, I’m not sure why it was made the focal point of anything. Burning Sermon was decent – better than the previous few it followed. Monsters Of The Deep was alright, although the first 2 and a half minutes it was on for seemed to fly by really fast. Tirades of Truth on the other hand really felt like it dragged. I don’t ever remember listening to When Summoned before. I’m sure I have but I don’t remember it at all. I liked it though! I seem to recall The Axe Shall Fall being one of the better songs on the album but much like several of the others that followed it…it is alright. The album has a whole has its moments (mainly the first 3 songs) but is a significant step down from the previous two, especially The Fury Of Our Makers Hand.
Album MVP – Clouds Over California
Also Recommended – Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost, Bound By The Moon.

PRAY FOR VILLAINS (2009) – Before listening back to this album, I had it in my mind that this was Devildriver’s second best album behind Fury. The album opens with the title track and it is a very strong start. Just like the previous 3 albums, this one starts very well. Pure Sincerity is also really quite good. I enjoyed Fate Stepped In but I was a bit bored as the song went on. Back With A Vengeance lost me a few times which meant I had to roll it back and listen to the second half again – I liked it though. I’ve Been Sober is one of my favourite Devildriver songs period. Resurrection BLVD did very little for me. Forgiveness Is A Six Gun and Waiting For November are both alright songs in my opinion. Another Night In London is an excellent song – one of the best on the album. It is followed by Bitter Pill, another one of my favourite Devildriver songs. The album would have been better had it ended after Bitter Pill. The last two songs, Teach Me To Whisper and I See Belief, aren’t bad by any means, but I doubt I will be listening to them again in a hurry.
Album MVP – Bitter Pill
Also Recommended – Pray For Villains, I’ve Been Sober.

BEAST (2011) – I think in terms of recorded output; this is when I started to go off Devildriver. I remember there being some good individual songs on this album but on the whole, it didn’t do a lot for me. Dead To Rights, much like any other opening song on a Devildriver album, is a belter. Bring The Fight (To The Floor) is another really good song. Hardened is an alright song but it quickly became background music for me if I’m honest. Shitlist is a decent enough song. Talons Out (Teeth Sharpened) is much better than I remember it being which is a nice surprise. Same story with You Make Me Sick and Coldblooded if I’m honest. I would have added Blur into that as well but when I thought the song ended, it had nearly 90 seconds to go. That really was a drag to listen to. The Blame Game was alright but much like Hardened, it disappeared into the background very quickly. This album has thrown up a lot of surprises for me. Black Soul Choir was another one that I didn’t remember but enjoyed. The last two songs on the album were alright but much like the last two on Pray For Villains, are largely forgettable. This album though is much better than I remember it being, despite only having the one stand out track.
Album MVP – Dead To Rights
Also Recommended – Bring The Fight (To The Floor), Black Soul Choir.

WINTER KILLS (2013) – For the first time, the opening song is not a belter. Oath Of The Abyss isn’t a bad song, but it is the weakest opening track on a Devildriver album so far. Ruthless is a decent song, better than the opening track. As is Desperate Times. None of these songs so far are in the same league as past album belters though. The title track is another example of a song that is decent enough but not a belter. The Appetite is my favourite of the first five tracks. Gutted is a complete change of pace for the album in a good way. It is different to anything that preceded it. Curses and Epitaphs is another one of those songs that is decent enough. Same as Carings Overkill really. Haunting Refrain was alright but it did lose me in places. Tripping Over Tombstones is the best song on the album. It is head and shoulders above anything else on the album and potentially could creep onto a Devildriver best of album (were they to make one). However, it also might not. One song that definitely wouldn’t is their cover of AWOLNATION’s Sail. It isn’t a bad song – but it isn’t a good song either. I vaguely recall them playing it live when I last saw them. They did a 14 song headline set (maybe) and one of them was this? Poor call. This album is average. It is filled with songs that are “good enough” but nothing excellent.
Album MVP – Tripping Over Tombstones
Also Recommended – The Appetite, Gutted.

TRUST NO ONE (2016) – I’ve no idea what to expect from this album as I am going in blind. I’ve heard nothing from it before this first listen. Testimony of Truth is the opener and it is very good. Better than the opener for Winter Kills that is for sure. Better than the others? Possibly better than Dead To Rights as well. Bad Deeds started well – I was really into it. It slowed down towards the end and I lost interest a bit really. My Night Sky was another one I thought started well but tailed off towards the end. This Deception and Above It All are both decent songs. Daybreak, the lead single off this album is another decent song, but unless it goes downhill from here, I’m not sure why it was picked as the single. Testimony of Truth would have made more sense I’d have said. The title track is pretty good. Feeling Un-god-ly (ungodly is a word, why did they break it up?) is another one of those decent tracks that I’ll likely never revisit after this listen. Same with Retribution. The final track on the album, For What It’s Worth is good – better than most on the album.
Album MVP – Testimony of Truth
Also Recommended – For What It’s Worth, Trust No One.

CONCLUSION – To start with, this was a fun project. I got to listen to the first two albums again and it reminded me why I fell in love with Devildriver. After that, it almost became a chore to finish it. There were a lot of songs I’d only listened to once or twice from the later albums which were alright, but are not in the same league as stuff from the first two. I used to be in the Devildriver fan club back in the day. This revisit made me realise those days are long gone. Devildriver are no longer one of my favourite bands and this revisit did nothing to change that. It did remind me how good the first two albums are. It also, in all fairness, did make me realise that the album Beast is much better than I remember it being. So I guess that is something.

The next band I will be revisiting is one I’ve not really visited if I’m honest. I will look back at the albums by Bring Me The Horizon. 

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