Devildriver – Dealing with Demons I (Napalm)

Tuesday, 29th September 2020
Rating: 8/10

Coming off of the intriguing Outlaws ‘Til the End covers release back in 2018, Devildriver comes back with the first half of a two part offering with Dealing with Demons I. This far into the Devildriver discography, no one is really expecting much of a change from the status quo, and perhaps that is why Dealing with Demons is pleasantly satisfying.

That said, there’s plenty of more traditional Devildriver moments that fans will happily dig into. Lead off single “Keep Away from Me” checks off all of the usual boxes after a somewhat eerie introduction. Energetic mid-tempo riffs and snarled barks from Dez Fafara tread some familiar territory but carry a larger sense of urgency in the melodies. The same can be said for the groovy follow-up in “Vengeance is Clear” and it’s thundering stomp. The more straight-forward “Witches” keeps with this vibe later on, with an intense lead-up to the chorus and strong hooks when the time comes. The first track that catches the ear for slightly different reasons is that of “Iona,” due to a larger sense of dread and dark atmosphere. There’s the more traditional grooves still, but it has a nice, haunting quality to it at times. The follow-up track “Wishing,” Fafara brings in some ghostly clean vocals, which changes things up quite a bit – some really catchy moments and an extended solo later on make it one of the stronger songs on the disc. Closing track, “Scars Me Forever,” has a more somber vibe to it as well, giving it that epic finale quality as the tempo accelerates.

A few tweaks to the Devildriver formula for the better make Dealing with Demons I a stronger release than some may initially give it credit for. They can still bring out the fury and groovy stuff they’ve always handled, but the consistency across this release is notably stronger and the added somber tones and haunting atmosphere bring it some added emotional punch. Bring on the second helping!

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