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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)

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.