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Devildriver – Clouds Over California Award winner

Devildriver
Clouds Over California
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 01 August 2022, 11:19 PM

Overview

Back in my High School years, COAL CHAMBER revealed itself to be one of greatest new hits, and I am talking late 90s. While if not reaching the top as such acts as KORN, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, or DEFTONES, their impact on what Metal became in those strange years of the genre, was made and it was real as the skies are Blue on a bright Summer's day.

It never occurred to me, only years later, at mid-point of the first decade of the 00s, that in a way, DEVILDRIVER emerged by no other than COAL CHAMBER's vocalist, Dez Fafara, upon his inner vision for a heavier, meaner and darker band. DEVILDRIVER took the next step in modernized Metal, leaned on the extreme but without letting go of the American groove and the European melodies. With the collapse of COAL CHAMBER, a new promise from California, led by Dez Fafara, became a reality.

Re-embracing the legacy of DEVILDRIVER's Roadrunner Records era, spanning over the course of eight years (2003-2011), BMG introduces a special boxset, "Clouds Over California – The Studio Albums – 2003-2011". Not a compilation but a boxset that includes DEVILDRIVER's discography within them margin of that time with Roadrunner. The Boxset is released as a CD boxset, which is the center focus of these written words, but also in vinyl version, for whoever wishes to expand the listening the experience further.

The Pros

It starts with the packaging. A high quality cardboard box, which includes five digipacks. There were previous examples from BMG of that same fashion, such as the SKID ROW reissues. It is no secret that holding a high standard digipack is much better than a cardboard sleeve. I believe it is a big plus for this boxset, when comfort, and the wish to collect / preserve, are concerned.

It continues with the booklet, which I found to be quite informative and interesting. Each booklet includes the album in question's lyrics, credits, and band photos. The photos are probably the same as displayed on the original version of the album's in their CD form. What makes the booklet enticing are two things. A. The design, made by Ben Thomas Design, with each album appearing different in the form of where is what. B. The liner notes, written by Joel McIver.

Since I pretty much summed it up on the design, I will head straight to point B. The liner notes. Joel McIver described the state of affairs surrounding every album, each to its own era. To support his descriptions, he also interviewed Dez Fafara, that gave his version of events, as the chief elements, the star player, of this entire walk in memory lane. Through these liner notes, it is possible to understand better the history of DEVILDRIVER, along with how the band's music evolved, and at some point nearly got back to its initial starting point, and then lunged upon the future. I have to admit, there is information right there that is a must knowledge for die-hards and for every explorer of Metal music.

Heading forward with the bonuses. Other than the debut album, "Devildriver", each record is expanded by a number of bonus tracks, whether studio recorded, covers and additional live cuts of songs that were relevant to each record's era. It has been a while since I noticed such a reissue with so many bonus songs. Major kudos for BMG for rallying those numbers into this vast collection.

Making sure that those early albums would sound strong and worthy for this boxset, there is the remastering work of Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham. The quality of the audio sounds in good quality, and it maintained the richness of the originals. The original sound strong as they are, so for the naked ear, I don't believe that this advantage would be recognized from the get go. Nonetheless, as mentioned, the quality was preserved and kept alive.

The Cons

If there is one thing in these boxsets that I always like to look at is the photos, but not just the band photoshoot for that same record, yet I am talking about rarities. "Clouds Over California" doesn't let the listener explore much while listening, even though the written liners are informative. I expected that there will be old posters, perhaps rare shoots and footage of those early years of DEVILDRIVE, an aspect that I would strongly recommend to take into account on future reissues.

Summary

"Clouds Over California – The Studio Albums – 2003-2011" is the playground where the spiritual being of DEVILDRIVER began and flourished. The band's music explored the Americanized version of Metal, passing the late 90s and into the years, which some have been calling them, the revival of Metal. This boxset allows the listener to explore the band, comprehend their evolution and breath in their vision of groove meets extreme.



4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Devildriver
2. The Fury of Our Maker's Hand
3. The Last Kind Words
4. Pray for Villains
5. Beast
Lineup:
Dez Fafara – Vocals
Jon Miller – Bass
Mike Spreitzer – Guitars ("The Fury of Our Maker's Hand", "The Last Kind Words", "Pray for Villains", "Beast")
Jeff Kendrick – Guitars ("Devildriver", "The Fury of Our Maker's Hand", "The Last Kind Words", "Pray for Villains", "Beast")
John Boecklin – Drums ("Devildriver", "The Fury of Our Maker's Hand", "The Last Kind Words", "Pray for Villains", "Beast")
Evan Pitts – Guitars ("Devildriver")
Record Label: BMG
     


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