In just over a month, Witchdoctor Productions will be hosting American melodic death metal band Devildriver and German sludge metal duo Mantar at the 2017 edition of their annual bone crushing event, Witchfest.
As the weeks pass and the event draws nearer we will be dedicating every Wednesday to ‘Witchfest Wednesday’ where albums will be reviewed and interviews conducted with these two international heavy weights as well as the local South African bands who will be giving them a taste of what we have to offer.
ALBUM NAME: The Fury Of Our Maker’s Hand
RELEASE DATE: 2005
GENRE: Melodic Death/ Groove Metal
Dez Fafara – Vocals
Mike Spreitzer – Guitar
Jeff Kendrick – Guitar
Jon Miller – Bass
John Boecklin – Drums
Few phrases elicit dismissiveness and scorn in puritanical metal fans like “nu-metal”; A sub-genre of heavy metal that is often looked back upon with equal measures of shame and derision. This bouncy, syncopated, rap-inflected and simplistic approach to the usually virtuosic and technical onslaught of what many consider to be “real metal” took the world by storm in the dying days of the nineties, maturing into a global phenomenon by the early 2000s. Among the pantheon of bands that gained acclaim and popularity in this period, Coal Chamber plied a darker and more sinister approach to the genre, heralded by the demented rasp of frontman Dez Fafara and subsequently selling albums that would reach gold status. As nu-metal began to draw it’s last gasping breaths by the mid 2000s, Fafara’s desire to craft heavier music coupled with internal band tensions and the subsequent disbanding of Coal Chamber gave rise to the band DevilDriver and their eponymous debut album in 2003. While wading in the tepid and heavier waters of more conventional and straight-ahead genres of metal, it was generally panned by many critics for being contrived, uninspired and paying lip service to the waning trends of nu-metal, amongst other perceived faults.
With the release of Fury of Our Maker’s Hand in 2005, it seemed that DevilDriver were determined to ascertain their place in the hierarchy of metal bands that deserved to be taken seriously. Forgoing most of the stylistic reminders of Fafara’s tenure in the heady days of nu-metal, the Calfornia-based outfit instead focused on delivering a well-wrought and altogether more cohesive work that leaned heavily more towards a more melodic and sometimes blackened interpretation of thrash and Florida-style death metal. There were even actual guitar solos! Predictably, the second album seemed to appease the critics who previously decried the band for including ideas gleaned from their nu-metal roots. Fury of Our Maker’s Hand did indeed ramp up the level of aggression and technicality that Devildriver are now known for, setting an almost bloody-minded precedence to never take their feet off the pedal of the extreme metal machine that drives their current sound. This album boasted a more collaborative approach between members of the band (some new) to create it, showcasing the growth and range of each muician’s skills on their respective instruments with Fafara’s vocals maturing into the multi-faceted monster we recognise today.
As for the occasional sly wink to that “shameful” genre of the 2000s, from a personal standpoint I honestly quite like it when their music has been peppered with such elements. Growing up in this era where such bands were actually my gateway to heavier and “truer” forms of heavy metal, I can’t see the harm in throwing an occasional bounce in the groove or quick-fire rap-style delivery to get my body moving and my head banging. In all honesty, my favourite Devildriver songs are generally those that comfortably sit the fence between unbridled “true metal” technicality and some of the more generally accessible nu-metal ideas that the band’s sound occasionally reflects, thus satisfying my appreciation for both seemingly opposing viewpoints. Sure, Fafara’s lyrics will never be analysed in a Poetry 101 course for deep metaphorical context, but is that such a bad thing? Sometimes a simple and confrontational approach to composition is just what is needed to get the mosh pit heaving, voices bellowing along in unison and fists pumping, as DevilDriver’s second album so convincingly proved. As we get ready to finally welcome them to our shores in April (I’ve already got my ticket), I’d recommend that you do some homework and revisit Fury of Our Maker’s Hand as the first album to truly signify what a heavyweight Devildriver have become in the years since 2005. If you need any more convincing, go ahead and blast Hold Back the Day (track no. 4) as loud as possible and just try not to start nodding that cranium of yours. I certainly can’t.
WRITER’S CHOSEN TRACKS: Hold Back the Day and End of The Line
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Reviewed by: Ian (more from Ian)
Date: 08 March 2017
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