Courtesy: Napalm Records/Album art by Johnny Jones at COMA
Metalcore band Devildriver is scheduled to release its latest album this week. The band’s ninth album and eighth album of original content – its 2018 record Outlaws ‘Til The End Volume 1 is a covers compilation – Dealing With Demons I is a powerful new offering from the band. The four singles that the album has already produced are their own clear examples of that strength. They are just some of the examples of its strength. ‘You Give Me A Reason To Drink’ is another key way in which this album shows its strength. It will be discussed shortly. ‘Vengeance is Clear’ is another notable addition to the album that builds its presentation even more. It will be discussed a little later. ‘Scars Me Forever,’ which closes out the album, is one more example of what makes Dealing With Demons I another strong new offering from the veteran metalcore band. When this trio of songs is considered along with the album’s singles and its other works, the whole of the album will make it that much more difficult for critics to choose the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.
Dealing With Demons I, Devildriver’s first new record of new material in more than four years, is a fiery return for the band. That is proven through the record’s musical and lyrical content. The four singles that the record has produced have already more than proven that. They are not the only songs that show what makes this record such a strong presentation. ‘You Give Me A Reason To Drink’ is another way in which the album shows its strength. The song stands out in part because of its musical arrangement. The arrangement is very much unlike most of the album’s other arrangements in that it takes a more sludge/doom style approach instead of the faster, shredders that fill out the album. Even being a slower work in terms of its tempo, this arrangement is still heavy and intense in its own right. What is interesting is that even being slower, the approach taken here still manages to translate the frustration expressed through the song’s lyrical content. The band could have made this arrangement something more intense and up-tempo and it would have worked, too. But choosing the slower, heavier work still works just as well. It paints the picture of someone whose frustration is boiling just under the surface and ready to explode. That frustration is translated just as well through the song’s lyrical content.
Front man Dez Fafara addresses those frustrations clearly in the song’s lead verse, noting, “Don’t need your validation/Just keep your approval/Don’t need your invite/It’s all right by me!/Abusing/Confusing/I’m only refusing to let this effect ME anyhow!/Nobody gets me here/I’m a loner…/Always choosing to be out of place.” That frustration is just as clear in the song’s second verse, which finds Fafara singing, “Don’t send your condolence/Just keep your opinion/Don’t need your so sorry/It’s all fine by me!/It’s Abusing/So confusing/I’m refusing/To let this define me anyhow!/Nobody gets me here/I’m a loner… Always choosing to be out of place.” The song’s third and final voice puts that proverbial nail in the coffin as Fafara sings, “Hanging cold corpses off the holy highway/Leaving dead bodies in life’s wake!/So drained from seeking sympathy/From a dead hearted society/That could care less about humanity anyway!” This is someone who is just sick and tired of trying to please others and be what others want. It is someone who is fed up with the holier than thou attitudes of so many, and is making that frustration clear. The fire in the song’s lyrics couples with the noted powerhouse musical arrangement to translate that emotion and those thoughts that much better. All things considered, they make ‘You Give Me A Reason To Drink’ another unquestionable example of why Dealing With Demons I such an impressive new offering from Devildriver. It is hardly the last of the ways in which the album proves its strength. ‘Vengeance is Clear’ is another way in which the record exhibits its strength.
Where ‘You Give Me A Reason to Drink’ succeeds through its slower, plodding sludge metal approach, ‘Vengeance is Clear’ takes the exact opposite approach. This driving opus is an intense composition whose guitar, bass and drums equally share the spotlight. When Fafara’s vocals are added to the mix, the result is an arrangement that will appeal just as much to the band’s longtime fans and metal fans in general. The whole does its own impressive part in translating the equally intense emotions in the song’s lyrical content.
The lyrical content featured in ‘Vengeance is Clear’ come across as a very introspective thought from Fafara. He sings in the song’s lead verse, “I feel so trapped in my own head/I replay everything that you’ve said/I can’t escape this desperate feeling/Overwhelmed by my consuming dread/I’m looking in the mirror/Eyes full of doubt and fear/No time to settle scores/So no more/Thy will is done, no explanation, no rhyme or reason, no more.” The song’s second verse adds its own share of interest as Fafara sings, “A f***ing nod to the guilty/Undone by their woes/Don’t torture yourself by the seeds they sew/It’s an end to the story/A chapter to be closed/I’m locked up in a vault/I’m loyal to a fault/All this life I’ve waited through the rain/Never to feel this weight again/I swore to the thunder, I summoned the rain/I prayed down in the dirt/Never to fall again/Under the skin we’re all just blood and bone/I’ve hit the walls so many times/Can’t remember them all.” These words express a very intense and serious emotion and some very heavy thoughts. The statement in the song’s chorus, which finds Fafara screaming, “Do or die/What’s done is done/Do or die/Vengeance is clear” intensifies the song’s statement even more. It’s as if there is a certain resolute feeling here that counters the thoughts and feelings expressed in the verses. It’s like the subject is saying here that for all of the negative thoughts and feelings he is having, he will persevere. This is all this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as gospel. Regardless, the lyrical content definitely will resonate with listeners and together with its companion musical content, will generate even more discussion and engagement among listeners. Keeping all of this in mind, this song is just one more way in which Dealing with Demons I puts its strength on display. ‘Scars Me Forever’ is one more example of how much the album has to offer.
‘Scars Me Forever’ crosses the band’s fierce guitar approach with the sludge/doom approach of ‘You Give Me A Reason to Drink’ to make the arrangement in whole a powerful finale for the album and another unique addition to the record. The heaviness in the drums, guitar and bass is so powerful. The addition of Fafara’s screams to the composition deepens the song’s impact even more. When it is joined with the song’s lyrical content, the two elements together make the song (and album) that much more unforgettable.
The lyrical content featured in ‘Scars Me Forever’ comes across as someone confronting a familiar topic, that of a broken relationship and its impact on the subject. That is made relatively clear in the song’s lead verse and chorus, in which Fafara sings, “You smile and it scars me forever, you live life like a wild god. You said these ties would never sever! You said never never. Sit in my room and I think of the future, sit in my room and I think of the past. Going down the rabbit hole, try to hold on, but I’m sliding down fast. Fast! When everything is not what it seems to be/I got to pack up my days and nights/Walk away and leave.” Again, this is a familiar topic and situation for any listener, making it easily accessible in its own right. The song becomes even more accessible and relatable as Fafara sings in the song’s second verse, “All good must now just come to an end/I’m so sick of your scene and your friends/Intuition makes it so easy to call it quits and set this free/Sit in my room and I think of the future/Sit in my room and I think of the past/Going down rabbit hole, I try to hold on, but I’m sliding down fast/Fast!” The song’s third and final verse puts the accent to the noted statement as Fafara sings, “Would it be so easy for you to watch me go?/So walk out that door forever/We said never, never!/Never!/You laugh and it scars me forever/Don’t leave so easily/You said these ties would never sever/You said never/Never!” This relatively straight forward discussion will connect with so many listeners. Together with the intensity in the song’s musical arrangement, the song becomes that much more powerful. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here, the album’s current singles and the rest of the album’s works, the album in whole becomes undeniably, a candidate for its own spot on what are sure to be some very crowded lists of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.
Devildriver’s latest album Dealing with Demons I is a record with which any hard rock and metal fan will want to deal. That is proven time and again throughout the record in its musical and lyrical content. Each of the songs noted here, its singles and other songs show that with the fullest clarity. The musical arrangements are so heavy and rich, and the lyrics accessible in their own right. All things considered, they make this record some of Devildriver’s best work to date.
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