Review – DevilDriver: Trust No One

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  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Napalm Records
  • Release Date: May 13th, 2016
  • Genre: Groove Metal, Hardcore, Melodic Death Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

In about the span of a year, DevilDriver underwent a rather massive line-up change. John Boecklin and Jeff Kendrick are no longer with the group since 2014, and earlier this year the band also lost Chris Towning. In 2015, drummer Austin D’Amond (Bleed the Sky, ex-Chimaira) and guitarist Neal Tiemann (David Cook, Midwest Kings) were brought in to fill the respective ranks, and bassist Diego Ibarra (ex-Static-X, ex-Wayne Static) to cement the new formation for 2016. With a slew of new blood, one could only wonder if we would get the same DevilDriver fans have come to know and love, especially following the powerhouse that was 2013’s Winter Kills, or will it be something dramatically different, but in a negative manner?

Trust No One takes on more of a thicker sounding production overall, sticking to the myriad of melodic death metal leads. Sadly, it ends up just being an okay sounding album that greatly lacks charisma, especially when met with the slower paced material like “My Night Sky” or overly intricate passages. Some people have reported that you can barely hear Diego Ibarra’s bass presence on the release, which is interesting given how discernible it is in the mix given how loud it is compared to the rest of the stringed instruments. The only times it seemed to get lost were when you were met with overly complex hooks that sound out-of-place. If anything, it can be a bit distracting from the mild guitar chords and solid drum patterns throughout the effort.

As stated, there’s a notable lack of charisma, which is detrimental given how uninspiring most of the material is here, not to mention inconsistent even. “Bad Deeds” just comes off like more of an edgier hardcore offering sprinkled with melodic death metal hooks in the chorus. “My Night Sky” had potential of being more of a doomier performance, but whenever the pace picks up it becomes reminiscent of Pro-Pain‘s hit “Down for the Cause”, but a lot dirtier before what can only be described as a short-lived industrial break without the industrial around three minutes in. The random slowing here just sounds awkward and simply doesn’t help push the random burst of hostility and rapid fire bass kicks that follow.

Hell, even “Daybreak” takes on a southern Lamb of God sounding riffs of the main verses, not to mention has a chilly slowdown about three-and-a-half minutes in that’s pretty much pointless, especially following the dull anthemic guitar solo better left to a bargain bin Arch Enemy recording. It’s a shame considering the chorus being one of the most enthusiastic performances found on the entire album and could easily have made the lead single from the album something far better. But then you get “Feeling Ungodly”, which sounds like DevilDriver dipping their toes into the death metal pool a bit, having a steady charging pace that felt like “Briefcase Full of Guts” from Metalocalypse sans the Nathan Explosion character’s vocals. What’s astounding is how the song itself manages to come through like a cluttered mess with no real direction, especially when you reach the djentier final third, even though there’s clearly one present. This stems from the lack of variety between the bass and guitars, sticking to siilar deeper tones that just come off like each of the instruments are trying to one-up the other right into an awkward mess.

DevilDriver

Sadly, there are very few tracks here that really stand as redeemable for this release. “Testimony of Truth” manages to kick things off as one would expect from the band, though beyond the leads in the chorus and solid guitar solo, it’s just your standard DevilDriver fair with little else that really jumps off the page at the listener. “Trust No One” immediately feels like a throwback to the days of The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand, complete with a gloomy atmosphere and thick riffs at a fairly breakneck speed. This one of the rare times the guitar work greatly outshines the drumming, not to mention feels like something Jeff Kendrick has started before whatever reason led to his departure. That last line nicely sums up “This Deception”, though this could also be the group running out of ideas and recycling their own material with how immediately recognizable the leads are when compared to “Hold Back the Day” off the album mentioned a few lines above.

If there’s any way to sum up the way this album hits it’s to say that one’s neck muscles will instinctively want to at least bob your head along to the grooves, but your brain will just say “nope” and override that instinct based on how bland all but a few tracks end up. Trust No One just shows the band is total confusion as to which direction it wants to go in, more than likely thanks to the loss of the long time members that made this group such an pissed off entity in the first place, not to mention a mastering that shows the instruments were captured well but wound up having the life sucked out of them beyond the studio. Add onto it that so many songs simply sound like generic groove metal fodder and you have a recipe for something that literally stands at the line between good and bad, leaving the listener walking away thinking “Huh. Well, that was an album alright” in the must unimpressed of voices. But, the good thing about this is that DevilDriver seem to do something different with every new release, so hopefully the next album won’t be as mundane as this one was.

DevilDriver

Digital review copy of this release provided by Napalm Records via Secret Service PR.