[b]DevilDriver [/b]has always been a band on a three-pronged mission: Work hard, rock harder, and kick as many asses as possible in the process.
Since first forming in 2003, the Santa Barbara metal quintet has stuck resolutely to this mission, even though it's often meant traveling a rougher, less glamorous road than most musicians would prefer to endure. Rather than cashing in on the popularity of his previous successes, frontman [b]Dez Fafara[/b] insisted from the get-go that DevilDriver should not only forge their own unique sound, but should also start at the proverbial bottom of the bill and work their way up through endless touring, earning the music world's respect one fan at a time.
"I get that hard-working attitude from my father," says Dez. "I believe in gnawing at the bit, you know? It's taken its toll on us, sure - but hard work, road work and belief in ourselves is what we're based on."
[b][i]Pray For Villains[/i][/b], DevilDriver's gut-punching new album, is clearly the culmination of that endless hard work and unconquerable self-belief. Having honed their powerful sound over the course of three previous albums - 2003's self-titled debut, 2005's [i]The Fury of Our Maker's Hand[/i] and 2007's [i]The Last Kind Words[/i] - and countless live dates (including their legendary Download appearance in 2007, where the band's ferocious performance triggered what many believe to be the largest circle pit in history), the band is now operating at a higher level than ever before.
"For us, it's been a constant growth, musically," Dez explains. "Not only in terms of finding out how to write together, but in figuring out what a good DevilDriver song [i]is[/i]. Every single record has been a progression, and we approached everything the same way as we've always done, but it clicked really hard on this record. This is the defining sound of what we are, and where we're going to go in the future."
Produced by former Machine Head/Soulfly guitarist Logan Mader (who has previously manned the controls for the Cavalera Conspiracy, Divine Heresy and Five Finger Death Punch), [i]Pray For Villains[/i] finds DevilDriver rocking as brutally as ever, with the rhythm section of drummer John Boecklin and bassist Jon Miller pummeling the listener into submission while the guitar tag-team of Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer lets fly with one nasty riff and incendiary solo after another, and Dez truly howls like a man possessed. The album is both more technical and more straightforward than anything DevilDriver has done in the past, but there's also an additional emphasis on groove, dynamics and song-craft.
"We decided not to go even more brutal, more heavy, more screamy, more fast than last time, because we've already proved we can do that," says Dez. "There's a lot more groove going on, a lot more dynamics. The guitar work is amazing -some of the solos absolutely blow me away - and the drumming is un-fucking-real. There's gonna be kids in their basements trying to learn this shit forever. Yet we also said, ‘Let's not only bring groove into this, but let's bring hooks, and let's write [i]better[/i] songs.' We didn't dial it down at all, but we wanted to add some substance to it, as well