Since they formed in 2002, DevilDriver have enjoyed a slow, steady career build. Their self-titled 2003 debut was a crushing introduction to a new breed of extremity, spearheaded by the distinctive vocal ferocity of front man, Dez Fafara. The band's 2005 follow-up, Fury of Our Maker's Hand was more musically accomplished and experimental. But with their new album, The Last Kind Words, DevilDriver has taken a quantum leap up the evolutionary metal scale, crafting an album that's simultaneously brutal, melodic, technically complex yet instantly accessible. "We wanted to do something that was different than what we did on the first two records, and would stand out" Fafara says. "We wanted to keep our sound alive, but at the same time, move on. So, we knew that everyone needed to step up to the plate and push themselves to their fullest extent." The members of DevilDriver did exactly that, and then some.
The Last Kind Words is the kind of album that grips you by the throat, and doesn't let go for nearly an hour. It's punishing and uncompromising, distilling the creative vision of the bandmembers into songs that pummel like victims of violent crime seeking revenge on their assailants. At the same time, each song is chock full of hooks that keep listeners pinned in place for the next round of bludgeoning. From the first listen to songs like "Not All Who Wander Are Lost," which features jackhammer beats, chugging thrash riffs and biting death grind, or the epic architecture of "These Fighting Words," a precise and militaristic melee between marching volleys of hate and triumphant Wagnerian melodies, it's clear that DevilDriver have realized their full potential. "Bound by the Moon" is graced with ravaging double-bass drums and sinister guitar harmonies, "Call to the Throne" compliments down- tuned clamor with multi-part pinch-harmonics and penetrating, machine gun riffs. And the title track embellishes trenchant beats and start-stop rhythms with harrowing, spare piano. "When I listen to something like Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power record, it still sounds great because it stands up over time," Fafara says. "I want this record to do that as well. Fifteen years from now I want people go, ‘Listen to that shit. It's heavy, but it's still catchy and it totally captures the essence and groove of DevilDriver.' It's of the utmost importance that we clarify our sound for the masses on this one."
Fafara came up with the title of the album after writing the lyrics, "The last kind words will be/ You will live below angels and above beasts." The couplet addresses the predicament of being human, a theme that is at the very blackened heart of the record. "Out of all the things we could have been put on this earth as, being human is not good," Fafara explains. "It's like, okay, now you're stuck here with all these emotions and feelings and you gotta keep yourself afloat. The suicide rate has more than doubled in the U.S. in the recent past, so this album is about being motivated to stand up to the punishment of being a human and to have the character in you to go on when all people want to do is hold you down." DevilDriver started working on the new songs in 2005, soon after the release of Fury of Our Maker's Hand. The band members wrote riffs on the bus, backstage in clubs and in hotels, and Fafara scribbled down lyrics whenever and wherever felt inspired. By the time DevilDriver entered their practice space last year to assemble the songs, they already had a firm grip on the material. "It was important that we not throw this all together at a moment's notice," Fafara says. "We spent our time on these songs and were way more prepared to go into the studio than we've ever been before. There were songs where I had two sets of lyrics written lyrically and everyone had backup riffs, too, in case something needed to be changed. Fortunately, nothing did."
In mid-November 2006, DevilDriver entered the studio with producer Jason Suecof (Trivium, Chimaira) and recorded the entire album in less than a month. They were originally planning to spend more time on it, but Suecof decided they were so prepared they didn't need to do pre-production, and he worked so quickly that, before they knew it, they were finished. "We just demoed the shit out of the songs until the were near perfect. We walked into Sonic Ranch and started recording with a clear vision," says guitarist Jeff Kendrick. "The vibe in there was so amazing," recalls Fafara. "I've never seen someone track so fast in my life. And, he wasn't rushing, he was just capturing the moment and moving on. A lot of what you hear on the record is first takes, which is cool because when you do take after take, it can suck the life right out of a song. Jason really captured this band." The lyrics on The Last Kind Words demonstrate just as much development as the music. Instead of screaming with blind rage, Fafara expresses his knowledge and experiences, and reveals there's much more to his character than dark mysticism and misanthropy. "Not All Who Wander Are Lost," for instance, looks at life through the eyes of someone determined to live in the moment.
"A lot of people get overwhelmed with life and what they're going to do 20 years from now, and often they're the ones who are going to die early from heart attack and stress," Fafara says. "I'm one of the people who looks at things on a daily basis and doesn't get swept up in what's yet to come." By contrast, "Clouds Over California" tells a more personal story about the demise of friendship and the need to sweep up the dust and move on. "Today I swore that I wouldn't mourn ya/ Curse the clouds over California," screams Fafara over a backdrop of tumbling beats and buzzsaw guitars. "It's about being friends with someone for a long, long time and then finally just going, ‘You know what? This isn't working. I'm done with this. Don't call me anymore." With The Last Kind Words, DevilDriver have not just raised the bar, they have perfected their high-jump. Instead of just striving for the top they have outreached even their own expectations and delivered an album that puts them in an entirely different sonic realm. Without sacrificing heaviness, DevilDriver have become more melodic, without sacrificing accessibility - adding poignant complexity to their ever-evolving sound. After many years of extensive touring, DevilDriver have shaped their career on inspiration and remain diligent artists, with no airs or pretension. Drummer John Boecklin comments, "This is our most extreme, interesting and complete album so far. We focused on adding a bit more complexity to the structure of the tunes. I think fans will find a more mature DevilDriver with this album." The Last Kind Words are an affirming testament to DevilDrivers' on-going metamorphosis - combining the diverse influences shared by the entire band with a steady focus on song-craft. Transcending expectations, The Last Kind Words offers a fresh sound from a band that has firmly planted their place in the extreme music landscape. After years of touring and releasing records, DevilDriver have honed in the essence of their songwriting potential, with what has been described by the band as "...by far the best DevilDriver record we have made."