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DevilDriver

Outlaws 'Til The End: Vol. 1 – 2018 (Napalm)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by DevilDriver

Many mainstream country artists will point to their Southern roots as proof of their country music credentials. These roots seemingly give them liberty to stray just as far from typical country music instrumentation as they like. However, how does this rule apply to Santa Barbara, Cal.'s DevilDriver, which applies its hard-rocking groove metal chops to a set of outlaw country music? One imagines it's the 'outlaw' in this equation alone that's attracted these rockers to these songs. All torch, no twang.

The veteran band has brought along a few of its famous friends for this wild ride, too. These include FEAR's Lee Ving, Glen Danzig and Testament's Chuck Billy. Song choices range from Willie Nelson's "Whiskey River," to more traditional choices, like "Ghost Riders in the Sky." There are even a few nods to (relatively) modern songs. Steve Earle may be a rebel cowboy, but one can never imagine him performing "Copperhead Road" the way it's rushed through here. Nevertheless, Dwight Yoakam's "A Thousand Miles from Nowhere" at least retains most of its melody and tempo. The act's take on Hank Williams Jr.'s "A Country Boy Can Survive" has a punkish Social Distortion vibe to it.

It's likely even Jason Aldean-loving country fans will find this music a little too rich for their blood. However, if guys like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson had grown up in the metal culture, rather than their country Southern roots, it's more than possible they may have sounded just like this album. And if you didn't already know these were country-related songs, you probably wouldn't have associated that genre with these performances. If you already know, though, this is one loud and fun musical experiment.