Veteran metal band Devildriver has been in the headlines quite a bit in recent months. The band announced last month, it had made a pair of lineup changes, welcoming original bassist Jon Miller back to the band in place of Diego Ibarra. Along with that change, the band also announced the addition of new guitarist Alex Lee (Holy Grail) to the lineup. Miller was one of the founding members of Devildriver and remained with the band until 2011, when he was replaced first by Aaron Patrick, then Chris Towning and then by Ibarra. Lee is the band’s third rhythm guitarist behind Neil Tiemann most recently and founding member Jeff Kendrick before him. The lineup changes make Miller and front man Dez Fafara the band’s only original members in its current lineup.
Only weeks prior to the announcement of Devildriver’s latest lineup change, the band announced June 8, that it would release its new five-disc box set, Clouds Over California. Originally, the box set was scheduled for release Friday through BMG, but then an update to that date announced late last month stated the set’s release date had been pushed back to Aug. 19. This despite the band claiming as recently as Friday, that the box set dropped Friday. In other words, there remains no clarity at this point on the set’s exact release date. That aside, the collection is a set that most Devildriver fans will find just as appealing as modern metal fans. That is due in no small part to its featured albums, which will be examined shortly. The platforms on which the collection is available are just as important to note as the albums themselves. This will be examined a little later. The records’ liner notes round out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection. All things considered they make Clouds Over California a shining new offering from Devildriver. Yes, that awful pun was fully intended.
Devildriver’s new five-album box set, Clouds Over California is a positive new offering from the veteran modern metal outfit. Its appeal comes in part through its featured records. The records featured here are the band’s first five albums, Devildriver, The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand, The Last Kind Words, Pray For Villains, and Beast. All five albums were released through Roadrunner Records. All of the albums that the band has released since then have come through Napalm Records. So simply put, what audiences get in this collection is essentially the first chapter (so to speak) of Devildriver’s catalog. To that end, maybe BMG should have called this new set, The Roadrunner Years.
The collection by itself is impressive in its general presentation. There is an even deeper appeal to the records because what audiences get here is not just the albums’ standard releases, save for the band’s debut self-titled record, but three of the records in their expanded formats. Devildriver did not have an expanded edition, and The Last Kind Words allegedly had an expanded edition released through Hot Topic stores nationwide that had a bonus track, ‘Damning The Heavens.’ That extra track is not included in the record’s presentation here, but the other three albums are all presented in their expanded formats. To that end, audiences still largely get a very special presentation of the band’s Roadrunner Records catalog here. Keeping that in mind, the albums that make up the main body of Clouds Over California are reason enough for diehard Devildriver fans to own this collection. They are just part of what makes the collection worth adding to any fan’s library. The platforms on which the collection is available add at least somewhat to that appeal.
The collection is available on CD and vinyl pressings. This means that whether one is more a fan of vinyl and all of the problems that come with it, or more a fan of CDs, audiences on both sides of that proverbial aisle will be able to enjoy the collection. This shows that Devildriver and officials with BMG made sure not to alienate any of the band’s audiences in this case.
Of course, the pricing for the sets is clearly (and starkly) different between them. That cannot be ignored. The CD set’s average price point is $45.39 while the set’s vinyl box averages in at $182.74. Those prices were figured by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers. Books-A-Million, another of this country’s biggest retailers, did not list the set on either platform. Best Buy only listed the set on vinyl while the other outlets listed it on both platforms. Between the set’s much more affordable price on CD and the CD set’s more compact nature, audiences are going to be much more inclined to purchase the collection on that platform than on vinyl. Those who want to shell out the big bucks and make even more room for the vinyl set are welcome to do so but the CD set clearly is going to be more appealing, at least to this critic. Moving on from this discussion, the liner notes that accompany the collection round out the collection’s most important elements.
The liner notes that come with the set were composed by Fafara and are presented in a 20-page booklet that is new to the set. Along with that, each of the albums come with their original liner notes. So what audiences get in terms of this secondary content is not just the original liner notes with lyrics but a whole new set of liner notes looking back at the albums and their place in Devildriver’s history. All of this extra content pairs with the expansive presentation of the collection’s primary content to make the collection’s overall presentation that much more appealing. Add in the fact that Devildriver and BMG made the collection available for fans of CDs and vinyls alike and the collection gains that much more appealing for a wide range of audiences. All things considered, Clouds Over California makes for a good way to tide audiences over until Devildriver releases its next new album, which hopefully will come sooner rather than later.
Devildriver’s new five-album box set, Clouds Over California, is a strong new offering from the veteran metal band. It will appeal to most of the band’s established audiences as well as more casual fans of the band. That is due in no small part to its featured albums. The albums in question are all of the records that Devildriver released through Roadrunner Records. Those records make up the first half of the band’s catalog. The second half, which is also composed of five records, has come through records released via Napalm Records. Just as important here is that three of the five records featured here are presented in their expanded rather than their standard editions, so audiences get, for the most part, a special treat here. The band’s debut self-titled record was only presented in a standard form in its initial release, so there are no worries there. The availability of the collection on both CD and vinyl ensures that none of the band’s fans have been ignored, though the cost of the vinyl set is far more cost prohibitive than that of the set’s CD platform. The liner notes featured with the set round out its most important elements as there are some familiar liner notes and some equally in-depth new liner notes to boot. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the collection. All things considered they make Clouds Over California a mostly positive way to tide Devildriver’s fans over until the band releases its next album.
More information on Clouds Over California is available along with all of Devildriver’s latest news at:
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