First of all I would like to give my appreciation to whoever made the album cover because it’s awesome. This album has much more of a breakdown-like sound to it; making it one of the best headbanging albums of all time because they pull it off perfectly while keeping the extremely recognizable DevilDriver sound. The sound that is emitted by this album has more rage and tension than any other DevilDriver record. Although I would still call DevilDriver thrash death, this is the album with the least amount of thrash metal, and even has a tad bit of raging metalcore (obviously due to the breakdowns). The distortion on the guitars is fairly crunchy, perfectly fitting the sound of the album. If they had chosen to stick with the ultra-clean guitar distortions from Pray for Villains, it would have turned out as a disasterpiece rather than a masterpiece.
After years of gradually evolving their sound, DevilDriver decided it was time to do what every good band does at some point in their career, and that was to add a new element to their music, and that was the sound of Soilwork. When I say the sound of Soilwork, I don’t mean the melodic part; I mean the heavy headbanging part in sons like Late for the Kill, Stabbing the Drama, and The Pittsburgh Syndrome. Other than that, this beast of an album (pun intended) is pure DevilDriver; just what I like to hear.
The drumming has improved drastically. The album mixer did a great job of making the drums sound powerful and unrelenting without making them overpower the rest of the band by drowning everything out. The vocalist that has a tattoo for a beard (that I still can’t get used to) has one of the most unique mid-range growls that have a strong yelling sound (which is part of what contributes to their thrash metal sound). Honestly, the vocalist sounds better in this album than in Pray for Villains; which is saying a lot because he was pretty much flawless in that album. The one thing that bothers me is that I can hear the bass and the notes the bassist is playing, but I can’t hear the sounds of the bass guitar. Another thing I forgot to add is that the vocalist obviously feels that he has perfected his scream because he screams a lot more in this album than in the previous ones.
Now let’s take a look at some of the songs. One of the best metal songs of 2011 is Dead to Rights. This is one of the best headbanging songs ever written and is a song I continue to shove in others’ faces because I will do anything to keep this song from going under and being forgotten. Seriously, LISTEN TO THE FIRST SONG OFF THE ALBUM, it’s not something that will disappoint you. And if you say that it sounds too “mainstream”, guess what, there are going to be a lot of people tearing up your ass for putting down that song because it has become a favorite to hundreds of people worldwide (actual statistic). Sometimes I just listen to that one song and forget about the rest of the album, that is, until Hardened starts playing.
The music never stays the same; it’s constantly changing for the duration of the album, keeping the listener interested and engaged, which is what a good album is supposed to do, right? The band is tight and never falls out of time, there are occasional bass booms at the beginning of breakdowns, there is an obvious amount of hard work and effort that was put into the writing process, you can tell that the band cares about what they did and that they didn’t just slap a bunch of random shit together and call it good, and the sound of the album is filled with unrelenting rage and unmerciful power that will blow you away. This album deserves my score of 19/20.