Dez Fafara's post-Coal Chamber existence begins promisingly enough with "Nothing's Wrong," the leadoff track to DevilDriver's eponymous debut. His bellow is appropriately menacing, the twin guitars stutter and roar, and drummer John Boecklin bashes out a hyperkinetic drumbeat. It seems a bit overdone, but still genuine enough for enjoyment (or wall punching). However, this changes with the album's second track and single, "I Could Care Less." While its verses ring true, the song's chorus and twisting main guitar hook seem lifted from one or another of the post-grunge howlers who make a living crying about a paucity of childhood hugs. Does a hard band such as DevilDriver need to concern itself with such nods to accessibility? From its witchy moniker and the black arts runes oozing from the liner notes, it would seem Dez and his minions would rather devour their blustery competition, and wash them down with a fine Chianti. Instead, DevilDriver is marred by an intangible sense of methodical assembly. "Cry for Me Sky (Eulogy of the Scorned)" and "What Does It Take (To Be a Man)" seem to break down into distinct units -- the grandiose lyrics, the animalistic bleats, the monolithic guitar chords splintered by traditionalist peels and squeals. The bits and pieces have resonance, but they're rarely able to unite in a menacing or even very affecting way. Fortunately, there's the modernized death metal churn of "Die (And Die Now)" and "Swinging the Dead," and frequently unchecked tenets of thrash that keep the record moving fast and loose. These elements help to redeem DevilDriver's debut and suggest that, with less of an eye on the mainstream and more musings on what the idol Baphomet might contribute as a coordinating producer, the band's next trick could be magnificently horrifying.
by Johnny Loftus