COAL CHAMBER was one of those bands that just absolutely hit me the wrong way. Their overhyped simpleton nu-metal fuckery used to just piss me off, more so than almost any band this side of SIX FEET UNDER. So when frontman Dez Fafara killed that band off and released DEVILDRIVER's debut last year, my expectations were nil. That record really wasn't too hot either, but it was at least obvious that Fafara was attempting to put his hastily-learned black metal and modern-day thrash knowledge to work. He was distancing himself from stale nu-metal and the "KORN CHAMBER" taunts, and it was a good sign of things to come."The Fury of Our Maker's Hand" owes more to HYPOCRISY, IN FLAMES and latter-era TESTAMENT than to nu-metal… although Fafara will likely never escape the urge to occasionally spit his lyrics in just that sort of cadence. And really, a glossier, more commercial spin on underground metal, just slick enough for the leftover goth kids to get into, wouldn't be such a bad gateway drug to have around. "Driving Down the Darkness" has some bounce to it, but it sports some menacing chords too, and an overall malevolent vibe. Lead single "Hold Back the Day" really gets its Swede on, with plenty of busy (if somewhat generic) riffing, and a chorus with relentless double-kick drumming. DEVILDRIVER seem desperate to prove their underground cred here, flirting with black metal picking, thrashy riffs, and the occasional blast beat. There's a lot more to the songs this time out — the guitarwork is busier, and songs have a lot more parts to them (sometimes too many, stuck together seemingly at random). "Ripped Apart" and 'Hold Back the Day" get by on simple urgency, while "Sin and Sacrifice", "End of the Line" and the title cut make great use of quasi-melodic guitar hooks and varied vocal patterns, again biting a lot of the more aggressive Swedish metal tendencies (seriously, I hear so much Peter Tägtgren influence in the writing and singing at times). Unfortunately, there's still a lot of filler here — a song like "Grinfucked" is all attitude, no memorable riffs or vocals. "Pale Horse Apocalypse" has some nonstop busy riffing, but it doesn't go anywhere. Sometimes Fafara is the weak link, sounding oddly monotonous and low in the mix in some places. He's stepped it up a bit, but his band is rapidly outpacing him, and he's gonna have to become more inventive to keep up. A lot of "The Fury of Our Maker's Hand" is like the song "Impending Disaster" — decent, heavy enough, with isolated bits of near-brilliance that would keep you from changing the station, but enough generic parts to become frustrating and ultimately make the album seem like a misfire. It's definitely a big step in the right direction, though. Assuming DEVILDRIVER can keep enough people interested to warrant a third album, I'd place bets on that one being the place where they finally pull the whole thing together.
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