They couldn't have picked a better name. DEVILDRIVER's fifth full-length, "Beast", is arguably their most intense and spite-fueled effort to date. Where "Pray For Villains" saw the band place more focus on writing songs than crushing skulls, "Beast" is the byproduct of those two worlds violently colliding.
For the majority of its fifty-five minute playing time, "Beast" is just that; a blood-thirsty, kill-at-will throat slasher that would sooner piss on your corpse than look at you. That being said, the fucker can send you home whistling a homicidal little ditty in your head.
Like an action movie that starts out right in the thick of things, "Beast" kicks the door open and sprays bullets from the rapid-fire "Dead To Rights" all over the room. Immediately recognizable are DEVILDRIVER's uptempo grooves, technical, yet tuneful riffing and menacing snarl. Not only has the band taken these to the next level (and beyond), they've added a few little twists into the mix as well. Most of these twists come from guitarists Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer. Now don't take that as saying the duo have launched a spaceship off to planet prog, as they're still as lethal a guitar tandem as anyone, but "Beast" shines thanks to a barrage of entertainingly volatile riffs. "Bring The Fight (To The Floor)" is great showing of the way the two can play off one another before locking horns to make a song explode.
"Shitlist" and "Hardened" are perhaps the two best examples of the level DEVILDRIVER have reached with "Beast". Both tunes offer the mishmash of death, thrash and PANTERA-spawned power that has become commonplace in modern American metal. However, they also feature a plethora of nuances, hooks and dynamic shifts that engage the listener at levels many bands simply can't connect with.
For all the tricks DEVILDRIVER pulls out their collective sleeve on the aforementioned songs (among others), none quite deliver the steel-fisted chest punch that the visceral, pit-starter "Blur" does. Just sayin'.
While frontman Dez Fafara has never been known to display a sunny disposition on his records, "Beast" is undoubtedly his most pissed off outing to date. Whoever inspired the lyrics for "Coldblooded", "Talons Out (Teeth Shapened)" and "You Make Me Sick" would be wise to steer clear of this venom-spitter. This is one of the most genuinely angry vocal performances I've heard in sometime. Not even the semi-polished production (which unfortunately stomps on bassist Jon Miller a bit too much for my liking) can filter Fafara's ire.
From start to finish, "Beast" is one motherfucker of an album with little to no filler.
Although the cover of 16 HORSEPOWER's "Black Soul Choir", "Make Me Sick" and "Crowns Of Creation" struck me as a tad formulaic (despite their overall ferocity), by and large, "Beast" breaks many of the molds cast by previous efforts.
While I'll readily admit that I found a certain charm on "Pray For Villains" that seems to be lacking here, I really don't think DEVILDRIVER was trying to charm anyone with this record.
As I stated before, "Beast" delivers exactly what the title promises; a relentless monster split up into twelve songs that comes and goes without an ounce of concern for the trail of bones and blood left in its wake.