It’s awesome when an album can just pick you up by the throat and hold you there. Before this came on I was planning on doing a bunch of other stuff for the site, but two songs in Beast was having its way with me and wouldn’t let go.
Whoever’s been supplying Dez Fafara with angry pills has upped the dosage to a dangerous level lately, because he sounds like a man possessed by nothing but hatred and rage. And with the rest of the guys in the band all contributing guitars and bass, Beast has the fattest riffs and the most pummelling groove of DevilDriver’s career. Let’s not forget John Boecklin’s huge drumming either. The dude certainly had his work cut out for him here, and he delivers in spades. Fafara clearly wasn’t joking when he said that this was the most extreme DevilDriver yet. Simply everything has been beefed up to a degree beyond everything they’ve done so far.
Beast is an immense record, opening with the epic-sounding violence of “Dead to Rights” that will make their insane circle pits positively lethal once it’s unleashed live. Yet that is merely the beginning of close to an hour’s worth of unrelenting, unforgiving metal aggression. “Bring the Fight (to the Floor)” and “Hardened” only heighten the intensity level until the band has become a seemingly unstoppable hate machine. By the time of “Blur”, Fafara is shrieking “I don’t know you but I fucking hate you” like a complete madman. “Shitlist” is somewhat looser with a twenty-second intro of ambient guitars, but this is only a very brief respite. The punkier elements of Pray for Villains are mostly pushed aside this time, only really making their presence felt in “You Make Me Sick”, but Beast is no worse for this, instead veering harder toward the more extreme end of the metal spectrum than ever. Parts of “Black Soul Choir” are almost in the realms of melodic black metal. Only “Lend Myself to the Night” offers some relief, but only insofar as it’s slower and the most melodic track, as if the band decided to ease off the pedal as the album rumbled to an end.
Beast is the true pinnacle of DevilDriver’s — and Fafara’s — career to this point. It is an absolute monster of an album that has already set the bar way high for the year and a new standard for all groove metal albums to come.
Produced by Mark Lewis
Playing time: 55.40
Reviewed by Brian Fischer-Giffin