Album Review: DevilDriver – Head On To Heartache [EP]

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Ten years ago, Birdhouse skateboards, BMX Bikes, The ESPN X Games, Surge (the best soda ever), Ozzfest and Nu Metal were in full swing. This period of time resembled what the late 90’s came to be all about: massive ways to market to thousands of teenagers right before the dawn of the dreaded Y2K scare. While the dust eventually settled with the overall farce that the Y2K bug proved to be, the events leading up to it in the world certainly left their mark. Bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, Stained, Mudvayne and Slipknot all collected a piece of the nu metal pie that passed around the United States and kids ate it up like there was no tomorrow. Another band, Coal Chamber, made its name known for touring with some of these said acts as well as signing to Roadrunner Records, the crowning label that bore forth most of the said bands. As the 2000’s progressed, Surge came off the market for good, skateboarding declined amongst amateur skaters and nu metal began to crumble in favor of post-hardcore and emo. Coal Chamber called it quits in 2003 as a result of internal struggles and the decline in the overall nu metal movement taking place.

Out of the ashes of Coal Chamber, former lead singer Dez Fafara continues his heavy metal pursuits with his new band DevilDriver. On their latest EP, Head On To Heartache, the band issues four songs that weren’t released in the U.K. as well as the title track off of their third release The Last Kind Words. In a sense, DevilDriver continues in the same favor as Coal Chamber, but Fafara’s vocals are a bit deeper and throatier.

The EP kicks off with “Damning The Heavens” which proves to quickly be the highlight of the extended play. Fafara’s vocals as mentioned sound quite heavy against the band’s forceful musical progression. Guitarists Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer do a good job keeping the overall attention on the heavy, simple dropped C notation behind Fafara’s vocals. The next few tracks, “Unlucky 13” and “Guilty As Sin” however fall flat quickly and prove to be mediocre numbers. Fafara at this point still sounds like his old self from Coal Chamber. The other thing that strikes hard is the length of the songs. While this is an EP, the songs feel long for what they try to accomplish. By the time the last two numbers, “Digging Up The Corpse” and “Head On To Heartache” finish, it seems that the EP took a bit longer to complete. The only saving grace by far are the guitar solos, and even then those are far and few in between.

Overall, DevilDriver sounds like a mere continuation of Coal Chamber, albeit with other members and a new name. Dez Fafara isn’t a bad frontman, but the music just seems to be a bit dated, even by today’s standards.