DevilDriver's Dealing With Demons I is unrelentingly heavy, but is it enough?

American metal grunts DevilDriver return with the first of a double dose of heaviness on Dealing With Demons I

DevilDriver: Dealing with Demons I
(Image: © Napalm Records)

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Ex-Coal Chamber frontman Dez Fafara successfully transitioned from nu-metal foot-soldier to groove-metal standard bearer nearly two decades ago. His band DevilDriver have spent the interim years churning out steel-plated riffs and filling mid-afternoon festival slots without ever reaching the heights of forebears Pantera or Machine Head

Their ninth album gives some indication why. Dealing With Demons I is the embodiment of mid-lane metal: immaculately performed, unrelentingly heavy and undeniably heartfelt, but untouched by greatness. 

Keep Away From Me and Nest Of Vipers lean into the clichés of modern metal: machine-gun drumming and Fafara’s part-barked, part-yelped vocals. 

There’s little to distinguish its 10 tracks from each other, beyond Wishing’s stark, startling verses. It’s a shame, because Fafara clearly believes in what he’s doing, and this is far from a bad album. It’s just not enough to reach beyond the faithful.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.