DevilDriver really didn’t get off on the right foot as a new band. For those of you who don’t know, they were originally Dez Fafara’s side project; Dez spent time with his side project, but his main attention was on Coal Chamber. Luckily for DevilDriver, it was only a matter of time before they released their debut, Coal Chamber split up, and Dez focused on DevilDriver. But Dez had a hard time making a clean slate with his new band and putting his old one behind him. First of all, he developed a feud with the bassist of his former band, Rayna and her husband, Sevendust’s drummer Morgan Rose. And DevilDriver’s self-titled debut was heavier and faster than anything CC ever made, but it also, inevitably, drew comparisons. Even though it was tinged with thrash, it still had nu-metal influence. Then in 2004, Dez and Co. released “Digging Up the Corpses” for the “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” soundtrack; this b-side was not at all impressive. So, DD would have to do a lot of work to get the publicity Coal Chamber had.
Now we have “Fury of Our Maker’s Hand,” an album which should step out of Coal Chamber’s shadow and cut all of Dez’s ties to his past. Even though I still don’t understand why Coal Chamber couldn’t just evolve and become heavier (as heavy as DevilDriver), this group’s sophomore release is definitely better than their 2003 debut. “Fury” is sinister, energetic and explosive. The guitar work is fierce and pummeling. Mike Spreitzer and Jeff Kendrick are amazingly good for rather small time, unknown guitarists. And the production is clearer; making the guitars crisp and articulate. Next, the deft drum work makes the beats thump. Finally, Dez foams at the mouth with rage throughout every track. These things make “FoOMH” a blizzard of savage thrash metal.
Musically, this band is kind of like old school Sepultura meets Lamb of God. What prevents DevilDriver from being a typical metalcore or death metal band is the vocals. Dez doesn’t exactly sing cleanly, like many popular metal bands (i.e. Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall). On the contrary, he puts his fast, born to snarl voice to good use on most of this album. But his vocals aren’t monstrous enough (like Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe) to make Devildriver death metal.
“End of the Line” has a peaceful intro, with guitars that could be acoustics. The pounding drums eventually come in and turbo charge the beat, making it a whiplash speed. Then Dez lets out two of his patented, creepy, devilish growls. This song, the album’s first single, then continues to hit hard and sound awesome with heavy, rhythmic riffs. “End of the Line” would also make for a good DevilDriver concert starter.
“Driving Down the Darkness” has chugging guitars and drums, but this changes to a lurching beat with stop-start drums. I enjoy the part of this song where one guitarist plays a blistering fast riff, which, at first, is only audible in one headphone. Like “End of the Line,” this song is very catchy and should make a great mosh pit.
“Hold Back the Day” has another deceptively slow intro, but the power chords kick in around the 30 second mark. The guitars play more thrashy, searing riffs and the drums create a good give and take. This song’s chorus is very catchy (thanks mostly because of Dez’s vocal hooks), and it ends with a little bit of feedback from the drums.
“Ripped Apart” has another fast opening guitar riff and pounding drums. The usual wall of impenetrable music is created for most of this song, but it ends with more light, acoustic-sounding guitar work (which I believe was included solely to break up the monotony between tracks.
“Just Run” has more Sepultura style guitar and drum work, and “Impending Disaster” is another exciting track. It has a very fast beat coupled with propulsive guitar riffs and almost machine gun double bass drumming.
“Before the Hangman’s Noose” has pounding, punching guitar riffs which create a staccato, almost bobbing beat at times. Dez spouts sayings like “It’s a good day to die” and “All hell breaks loose” from his gut, but my favorite part of this song is when the beat builds (like it’s running uphill), and then it shoots downhill with some tumbling, cascading riffs.
Finally, the title track has buzzsaw riffs which are so fast, they kind of sound like helicopter blades.
But, unfortunately, (since pretty much all of these songs are equally as dark), “The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand” does have some overkill. Other than some soft intros and outros to break up the monotony, about every song picks up where the last one left off. And I would have liked if this disc had some more breakdowns. This doesn’t really drag this album down, but a band that’s as heavy as DevilDriver must be able to make some killer breakdowns, but this disc has only a couple of them (as in “End of the Line”), and only a few other surprises.
My final grievance with this album is that Dez’s vocals are barely different from when he debuted with Coal Chamber in 1997. Granted, they are faster, here, and a snarly voice does go best with this type of music. And I’m not asking Dez to croon or even sing cleanly, but I think “Fury of Our Maker’s Hand” would have less overkill if the vocals were a bit more multi-faceted.
So, what we have here is an album which should make for some great mosh pits at DevilDriver’s live shows. This is an album that is full of thrashy, blistering guitar riffs which flow like water from a faucet. “Fury of Our Maker’s Hand” is definitely a step above this band’s debut, and it may not be the best or most innovative album of the year, but it does make for a VERY entertaining listen. And you don’t have to buy into Dez’s supposed Wiccan religion and gothic attitude to enjoy DevilDriver’s new sound, so don’t take this C.D. (or anything Dez says) too seriously.