Pray For Villains

Devildriver is a band that gets a lot of shit from the “troo” crowd, mostly because of frontman Dez Fafara’s previous band Coal Chamber it seems. Supposedly that band called it quits because Mr. Fafara wanted to pursue heavier sounds while his bandmates wanted to head in a more mainstream direction. If that’s the case, I think he should be commended for bucking the possibility of more cash in favor of passion and forming Devildriver. I for one wouldn’t hesitate to call myself a Devildriver fan – their catchy, slightly sugar coated take on groove laden and hook driven extreme metal has always appealed to me, and Dez has an instantly identifiable voice which adds to that appeal. Each of their 3 prior albums was an improvement upon the last, each being heavier and more memorable than it’s predecessor – until now.

Pray for Villains is neither heavier nor more memorable than 2007’s The Last Kind Words. Instead, it seems they’ve watered down their sound, and left their inspiration at the door. The drums sound less busy than before, the riffs are overly simplified, and Dez doesn’t have the same bite in his tone as before. “Back with a Vengeance” is just screaming “put me on MTV!” with its watered down groove and tough guy chorus lyrics. “Pure Sincerity” and “It’s In the Cards” are possibly the most generic songs they’ve ever done, and “Bitter Pill” is treading awfully close to nu-metal territory.

On the positive side of things, “Fate Stepped In” is pretty solid, delivering a bit more intensity, memorable riffing and guitar work, and sounds like it could’ve easily slipped into the tracklisting of the last two albums. “I’ve Been Sober” brings some more quality guitar work with some solid leads, Dez provides a decent chorus and flirts with his first bit of clean vocals (at least that I can recall) later in the song. “Forgiveness is a Six Gun” is another of the better tracks with a slower and more controlled sounding pace, solid ax work and a good groove, but suffers from a flat chorus. “Teach Me to Whisper” is another that would fit in pretty well on either of the last two albums with some great melodies and a couple solid grooves.

The remaining 5 tracks didn’t make an impression on me at all, good or bad – they just seemed like filler. That even goes for the album opening title track, which tries hard but just comes up short, leaving me blank.

Pray for Villains has it’s moments, but all in all is a pretty lackluster effort. Hopefully next time they’ll pick up where The Last Kind Words left off.

While I’m here, I’d also like to thank Roadrunner for the high quality 128 kbps digital copy of this album for us reviewers – it really shows they care.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
August 21st, 2009


  1. Commented by: vugelnox

    only 128 kpbs? I assume there is a little sarcasm behind that! :-)

  2. Commented by: Juan Pinto

    Why bother reviewing it when Roadrunner didn’t bother sending the CD?

  3. Commented by: ceno

    128 kbps!It must be a joke. :smile: Anyway, what the hell happened to this band? I quite liked their previous stuff but with Pray For Villains I couldn’t go further than the first three tracks. Fair review, Larry.

  4. Commented by: AARONIUS

    I don’t hate Devildriver because of Dez’s Coal Chamber history, as much as I dislike this band because they are sooooooo boring.

    Seriously this is death metal for people who are afraid of death metal.

    I hate to sound like a snob, but this band reminds me of bands that are considered “Hot Topic” bands.

    Trying so hard to be brutal, but really just don’t have the songwriting chops to pull it off.

  5. Commented by: Vance

    Never cared for them, in fact I thought Coal Chamber was much better, at least they had a couple of decent songs and were not trying so hard to be extreme, anyways….I think Devildriver and Chimaira are probably my two least favorite metal bands out right now (wish they would both just GO AWAY!!)….not sure why that is relevant, haha

  6. Commented by: TherapyV

    I may be wrong, but I do not recall a member of Devildriver coming out and and noting their band to be a ‘Death Metal’ band. If Dez pulled the pin on Coal Chamber to pursue a heavier sound then I would say he has achieved that & agree with Larry on commending him for pursuing the passion rather than possible money. This album fits in well with the first three and although it may not be a great change each album has showed progession, good or bad. They are not pushing boundaries or I believe trying to blow us away with sheer brutality, but rather just bust out some tunes to bang your head.

    Shame on you Roadrunner.

  7. Commented by: Travis

    Bullshit that Dez isn’t doing this for the money. By the time Coal Chamber had ended, the nu-metal wave had died out. When Devildriver came around that’s when the metalcore scene was picking up. Either way I’ve seen them live twice mostly because they were opening for bands like Opeth. And seriously Devildriver’s music is just run of the mill metalcore that isn’t even done that well. Fuck them.

  8. Commented by: Staylow

    I’ve never once considered them to be a metalcore band. I don’t hear repetitive breakdown after repetitive breakdown. I don’t hear the “good cop/bad cop” vocals, and there’s certainly nothing core-ish about the riffing, but they do borrow from the Gothenburg sound. If that’s all it takes to be metalcore these days, then I must have missed something.

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