DevilDriver – Outlaws ‘til the End, Vol. 1 (Album Review)

DevilDriver – Outlaws ‘til the End, Vol. 1
Released: July 6th, 2018

DevilDriver Line up:

Dez Fafara | vocals
Diego Ibarra | bass
Austin D’Armond | drums
Mike Spreitzer | guitars
Neal Tiemann | guitars

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When I initially heard that DevilDriver were releasing an album of country songs, I got a bit excited. Some metal fans like myself will instantly think of Rebel Meets Rebel, an underground classic born from collaborative jam sessions between Pantera band members and US country musician David Allen Coe (one of my favourite albums by the way, and some of Dimebag Darrell’s best work.) Like what ‘Cowboys From Hell’ did in laying down the foundation for groove metal, Rebel Meets Rebel served as a blueprint to a completely unlikely mesh-up of ‘Country Metal.’

While Outlaws ‘til The End, Vol 1. Is an awesome tribute to the band’s country influences and does a fantastic job of melding the two (usually) opposite genres, those expecting a bit of Texas-style groove might be a tad disappointed. This is DevilDriver, and as such the ‘metal’ part of this album often overshadows the country flavour that band is aiming for. Outlaws offers 12 tracks of tight metal grooves, along with the trademark pipes of Dez Fafara.

It’s mostly a straight up metal offering, however, it’s on the rare moments the band breaks out from the metal box slightly and starts to mix that country angle in that the album truly offers a different experience.

Outlaws ‘til The End also comes with a range of guest musicians, including members of Lamb Of God, country musicians including Hank Williams III, along with Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory and Lee Ving of legendary punk band FEAR. Each guest brings their A-game to contribute their parts to some heavy songs. In particular, Randy Blythe from Lamb of God gives some great performances within ‘Whiskey River’ and ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’, which is possibly the standout track from the album.

 

The opening track, ‘Country Heroes’, sets the tone right off the bat with a unique country instrumental, before slaming it into action with the main guitar riff. Dez Fafara has really put some care into this album, ensuring each track selected is given DevilDriver’s trademark stamp of heavy interpretation. The country angle comes out in different instrumental passages, like within ‘Outlaw Man’, where a reverb-heavy guitar gives a very western feel.

Other songs such as ‘I’m the Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised’ introduce the ‘outlaw’ aspect within the lyrical content. Dez belts out passages like “I rolled into Atlanta, stolen tags and almost out of gas Yeah, I had to get some money, lately I’d learned how to get it fast” as if a cowboy himself, full of attitude and mayhem. Wednesday 13’s appearance in ‘If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me’ is appropriate, given his image for anarchy.

The intro for ‘The Man Comes Around’, a Johnny Cash number, sounds awesome, giving a great example of what happens when the band venture from their comfort zone into the realm of country, the whole song blending metal and country well.

 

DevilDriver also takes one of the most overplayed country anthems, ‘Copperhead Road’, and makes you forget how many times you’ve heard it played on your local pub jukebox. This new angle on the song does it some good. ‘The Ride’ finishes the album, and again we stray into country territory with a dose of harmonica, slide guitar and Lee Ving. Well, he might be punk, but the vocalist from FEAR shows us how diverse he can be as a singer.

Overall, Outlaws ‘til The End, Vol 1 gives a good glimpse into Devildriver’s country roots, while still offering the heavy riffs that have earned the band their place in the metal world. However, I still wish a band would take that ‘country metal’ melding initiated with Rebel Meets Rebel and expand it into a proper genre – guarantee you we’d hear something awesome.

devildriver - outlaws til the end, vol 1

DevilDriver – Outlaws ‘til the End, Vol. 1 track listing

  1. Country Heroes
  2. Whiskey River
  3. Outlaw Man
  4. Ghost Riders in the Sky
  5. I’m the Only Hell Mama Ever Raised
  6. If Drinking Don’t Kill Me
  7. The Man Comes Around
  8. A Thousand Miles from Nowhere
  9. Copperhead Road
  10. Dad’s Gonna Kill Me
  11. A Country Boy Can Survive
  12. The Ride

Rating: 7/10
Outlaws ‘til the End, Vol. 1 is Out Now via Napalm Records. Grab a copy here
Review by Simon Valentine (@SimonValentine1)

Revisit DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara co-hosting this week’s episode of Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall here

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