Much has been laid out in the media in the lead up to the release of this album as well as its accompanying second volume (due with in the next 12 months), being a ‘final purge’ of the personal darkness that drives this band’s music, and, more to the point, the lyrics of its talismanic frontman.
The tension builds slowly for opener Keep Away From Me as clean guitars dominate the low and heavy groove of the track. This is one of the heaviest and slower groove driven tracks DevilDriver has put out in sometime. Vengeance is Clear is quick to follow up in a more traditional and in-your-face style they have built their musical reputation on, even throughout the line-up changes over time.
The purging that has been spoken about so much in the lead up to the release of this album really becomes apparent on Nest of Vipers and Iona. The former with a heavy country guitar twang shows off a trick or two from the band’s last release while the latter delivers the kind of aural beating that you expect these guys to deliver. More striking though is the tone of Dez Fafara’s vocal delivery. There is a venom there that hasn’t felt so genuine since the Fury of Our Maker’s Hand album released 15 years ago now, years of pent up anger finally let fly free again.
The biggest musical twist comes at the mid point. Wishing changes the tried and true formula as Fafara sings cleans throughout the verses, saving his roar for the chorus. It is also the first and only real musical hiccup on the album, as the main riff comes awfully close to their cover of Sail. While it may be up to the listener to decide, it makes me uncomfortable when a great riff can be attached to another track.
From this most interesting of high points, DevilDriver settles back into their (ahem) groove as the second half of the album rattles its way like an old train towards the inevitable end. That’s not talking this album down. For a fan like me, you expect is here. The title track is the stand out of the second half, weaving and winding across new musical territory while also keeping its feet firmly planted in the pit of insanity that has always been DevilDriver. Scars Me Forever leaves the listener hanging on a thread for the release of part two as Fafara and the band just begin to really work out the demons that they are here to deal with.
1. Keep Away From Me
2. Vengeance is Clear
3. Nest of Vipers
6. You Give Me A Reason to Drink
8. Dealing With Demons
9. The Damned Don’t Cry
10. Scars Me Forever