California's Devildriver have never exactly been the shrinking violet type of band. But their new album, happily titled Beast , takes the piledriving element of their music a step further again. To pun very poorly, it's an absolute animal of an album, and obviously very appropriately titled. It veritably bursts out of the speakers with, dare I say it, animalistic fury, and leaves no doubt in one's mind that Devildriver are one of the most over-the-top bands in mainstream metal today.
From his home in California in a rare moment of down time, Devildriver main man, and former Coal Chamber vocalist Dez Fafara agrees whole heartedly. "Well, just hearing that, I'm real appreciative," he enthuses. "It's been coming down the pipeline to me, everyone I've been talking to is really feeling the same way. That makes me feel great, we worked very hard, and we knew that at this point in our career we needed to come up with an album that absolutely defined who we are.
"We like to keep people guessing and make changes…" he muses. "[Every album] has been a motion forward, and learning how to define ourselves. The band has only been together eight years, and we've been pretty prolific, with five records in that time. Now we're really fitting into our shoes, and we know exactly who we are and what we have to offer. So it just makes me feel good knowing that everybody's loving the record.
"You look at Pray For Villains, the last record we did" he continues, on the crushing nature of the new record, "it was kind of out of the box. I stepped back on the vocals; it was a little laid back, and a different kind of record. But Beast is straight for the throat, all the way through.
"We knew at this point right now," he continues, "that this was the record that needed to be made, and that this would be the record that was the defining moment for us. Our producer Mark Lewis said it best, he said 'within a genre, you've managed to define and create a sound. Now it's time to take your sound, and create a genre out of it.'
"We all kind of looked at him and said 'you're totally right!' So we're moving forward and trying to keep 'em guessing!" he laughs.
The band have indeed been incredibly consistent in their releasing of new material in their relatively brief (in metal terms) tenure as a band together, while never sacrificing the quality of what they're putting out to fans and the marketplace. The secret according to Dez, if there is one, is having a good, strong, old fashioned work ethic, a streamlined writing and recording process that includes working on new material on the road, and simply an ongoing commitment to quality. Plus, operating in complete ignorance of current trends in the music biz.
"Well I think the first thing you gotta say to yourself," Dez explains, "is, let's not release anything until it's ready. If we don't have the music ready in two years, let's not do it. Let's not do anything that's timely, meaning, let's not follow anybody's lead, let's not try to stay within any genre.
"The next thing that you wanna do is, on the road, you'll go backstage and you'll see guys writing. When we come off the road they write individually, and then they get together in pairs. After they get together in pairs we go to Mike's house, our guitar player's house. He's the guy behind the computer that demos all the stuff. They send the demos to me, I do a lot of arranging of the music. [I] put my lyrics down on demo, I give it back to them, we go through what they like and what I like, and then we move forward.
"So, by the time we hit the studio, all the pre-production's done, so we don't sit with a producer for two weeks and do pre-production. Then we can say 'this is what we want, this is what we're gonna be'. Just so we don't get led in the direction of, say, a producer who may have just done the next big up and coming young band. So that's the process."
Which also begs the question of how the band achieve the consistency of their releases, both in terms of regularity and quality. "We have the advantage because most bands are together five or six years before they do their first record," Dez states, "we were only together six months.
"So I think, of course it's going to get better, and if not, it's not even worth being a band. That's why, when we keep pushing the limits, we're not afraid to re-define ourselves, to step in the box, out of the box. We don't follow what anybody else is doing.
"All of those things, measured in a band that's only been together for eight years, we've done five records, and we think it's gonna consistently get better. And I said this in my first interview for the first record. I said you're really gonna see what Devildriver can do on records four, five and six! And I meant it!"
And one tends not to doubt Dez Fafara when he says these things.
"It feels like the second or third [album] for me," he continues. "It feels like we 'ohhh, ok. That's who we are!' I personally am already writing for record number six and seven!"
With Beast set to be unleashed on the general populace, Devildriver return to our shores very shortly to be a part of the massive Soundwave bill. The band are certainly no strangers to our country, having toured here consistently over the years, but this trip promises to be extra special for Dez. "[I] love it man, I love coming to Australia," he states, "and what's really beautiful this time, is I'm getting to bring my wife and my children, and I'm playing Soundwave with Iron Maiden, Slayer and all the other awesome bands on that bill!"
It's hard no to agree with him. And with Beast ready to ravage your ears, it's certainly set to be the year of Devildriver.
DEVILDRIVER return to Australia as part of the gigantic SOUNDWAVE festival bill - alongside Iron Maiden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Slayer, Primus, Slash, Rob Zombie, Stone Sour and heaps more at - at the Melbourne Showgrounds on Friday March 5. It's sold out - check out soundwavefestival.com for all info. They also play a Sidewave at Billboard The Venue on Thursday march 3, along with Ill Nino, All The Reamains and Non-Point. Tickets from ticketek.com.au and 132 849 or billboardthevenue.com.au. DEVILDRIVER's new album Beast is out through Roadrunner Records next week February 18.