Review: Devildriver – Dealing With Demons Vol. II
Driving with the devils.
(This review was written by Gage)
“This is going to hurt… In the best way possible”
The Californian Groove Machines better known as Devildriver are back at it again 20 years after their inception to prove that not only do they still got it, but that they’re still at the top. Dealing with Demons Vol. II is an absolutely crushing record practically made for the mosh pit. Every song is catchy, heavy, and full of the primal rage we’ve come to expect from them. When they released Vol. I in 2020 it was widely heralded as their heaviest work in a decade, and I’m here today to tell you that they’ve done it again, and this time they’re out for blood.
With the first track, I Have No Pity, Dez and crew start by lulling you into a false sense of security with a rhythmic interlude, but this does not last long. We immediately get hit with a wall of heavily distorted guitars and drums, closely followed by Dez’s signature growl to pummel you into whatever wall you’re standing in front of. Buckle up and steel yourself, this record doesn’t slow down.
Next up we dive into what’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser live with Mantra. Its “THIS IS THE WITCHES MANTRA” chant is sure to become a deadly mosh pit scream-along in the near future. They interlace an occasional break in the instrumental that’s enough to allow some breathing room but has the added benefit of making it hit even harder when it returns.
At the beginning of multiple of the tracks in this record, Devildriver almost makes me think they’re going to slow down, to then suck me back in with some of the most stank face-inducing grooves I’ve heard in recent years. Then there are songs like the fiery mid-pointer through The Depths which makes heavy use of pummeling blast beats and scorchingly fast trem-picked guitar parts. As well as Bloodbath with a guitar tone so extreme that I entirely forgot that I was writing this for the duration of the song, it stole all of my attention and held it with an iron grip. This grip never loosened, I kept finding myself staring off into the void, completely absorbed in the blood-curdling sonic soundscapes of Devildriver’s creation.
This record is Heavy which may sound obvious; however, I didn’t expect it to pack this much of a punch. It makes use of heavy-duty stomping drumbeats, claustrophobically tight performance, and face-melting vocals that are very pleasing to the ear. Overall, the writing is highly proficient, it has a perfect level of technicality and detail for a groove metal record. The whole album is very efficient in its delivery, it’s tight and concise with an unmistakably American metal feel. It has a similar vibe to early Lamb of God and Chimaira records but with much more polished and modern production. Dealing with Demons Vol. II is a very strong showing of what modern groove metal can and should be.
On to what is probably my favorite track on the record If Blood Is Life starts its relentless
brutality swiftly and refuses to let up. Its intoxicating drum beat and bass line completely envelop me in the brimstone-filled pit that is its groove. I’m powerless to do anything but sit and listen as lead guitar parts soar overhead like F-16 fighter jets.
Dez’s vocals keep a firm grip on my soul rooting me in reality, the layered production echoing off the walls and ceiling. Then a brief break filled with a short sweep picked solo leads directly into an abrasive chug-fest to remind me of what I’m listening to. The chorus is extremely catchy and has been stuck in my head ever since I heard it for the first time. This song will undoubtedly be on my personal playlist for the foreseeable future.
Devildriver’s crushing second installment of the Dealing with Demons records ends with an absolute punisher called This Relationship Broken. It is an unforgiving windmill of pain with chaotic guitars and drums wailing away at a neck- breaking pace. They know they can’t leave us on a low note, and they definitely achieve their goal. This track is brutal in every sense of the word and includes an ear-splitting breakdown that alone may just be one of the heaviest things I’ve ever heard from them. The screamed vocals with a creative left-panned echo during the chorus make for a phenomenal reminder of just what Devildriver is about. There’s a reason this band has been around for 20 years and this song is a great example of that staying power.
In conclusion, this record is a beast, most of its tracks gripped my attention with an iron fist and
took me on the journey of a lifetime. The production is very spacious which greatly enhances the immersion experienced while listening. For the entire duration of this record, I was completely focused on the destruction going on around me, and the brutal ride that I was forcefully strapped into. The songs work together well, they create a very powerful cohesive unit, but not so much as to make it hard to listen to the tracks individually. Devildriver has now been around for 20 years, and after a release like this, I hope they stick around for at least 20 more.