DevilDriver's "Pray for Villains" is a remote control with just one button. And that one button gets mashed over and over again from the word "go." It is brash, loud and substantive, but totally lacking in imagination or variety. The album is one howling metal noisefest after another, with fuzzed-out guitars and so much double-kick drum that I became numb to it. It never relents but also never triggers any adrenaline. "Pray for Villains" is one pace, one sound, one theme, coupled with the usual spate of angry choruses. The band has no time for polysyllabic ideas, and the album thuds along at something short of a blistering pace.
There might have been a time in my younger days when my taste was less refined, that I would have appreciated the simple mayhem that this album has to offer. Still, especially on the heels of reminiscing about a classic metal destruction fest like Scissorfight's "Mantrapping for Sport and Profit," this album feels sophomoric and undeveloped. While I am usually in favor of a romping power chord infused stomping album, "Pray for Villains" lacks the flair of The Cursed, the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere of Viking Skull, or the sheer power of Scissorfight.
Instead of all that, DevilDriver feels like the void can be filled with more and more kick drum. The kick drum in this type of metal is almost meaningless now. It has always been better employed by the drummers (Nic Ritter, Dave Lombardo, etc) who understand when to step off the gas, rather than lay into it more. John Boecklin hits his set early and often, with genuine ferocity, but the overal effect is muted when the band plays no other trump cards.
After four or five of the same song went by, I came to be tired with the album, and continued to listen mostly as a matter of course. Each individual song, "Pure Sincerity" and "Forgiveness is a Six Gun" for starters, flashes a small showcase of what could have been, but is immediately swallowed up in more screaming and power riffs.
"Another Night in London" is the one memorable song to be had here, and beyond that "Pray For Villains" is twelve more cuts of the same thing.
Let me pull up on the reins for a spell. "Pray for Villians" is far from worthless, and isn't without some skill. The band clearly has a direction they want to go in, and is making music to that end. I can say with confidence that Devil Driver is probably an energetic and virile live show, the perfect fodder for a brainless, explosive mosh pit.
"Pray for Villians" main problem is that it's a one-trick pony. If you're a fan of the one trick, great. If on the other hand you find you don't like one, you won't like any. I was not a huge fan of Coal Chamber, and DevilDriver isn't doing much to change my opinion.