Back in 2016 after a three year break, their longest spell between albums to date, DevilDriver released Trust No One on 13 May 2016. The record marks their return from hiatus and the first recorded appearances of Neal Tiemann (Midwest Kings, The Anthemic) on guitar and Austin D’Amond (ex-Chimaira) on drums after the departures of founding members Jeff Kendrick (guitar) and John Boecklin (drums) in 2014. Whilst there have been major lineup changes, the same cannot be said of their sound: this is still DevilDriver through and through, and you wouldn’t even know that they’ve changed members just by listening to the record. Sure, there are a couple of slight variations here and there, such as the occasional addition of dark, foreboding tremolo picking on the guitar’s lower register, but slight changes such as this could easily have been part of the band’s natural evolution with its original members.
The record starts strong instrumentally, with opener “Testimony of Truth” featuring a solid groove in the verses, and nice, melodic guitar phrasing during the chorus. Vocally, Dez’s snarl is as strong as ever, although the other aspect of his work that hasn’t changed over the years is his lyricism. They’re still as angst-ridden and direct as they were when the band formed and, whilst this may not be a problem for some, others may grow tired of hearing the same old thing, album after album, without much evolution or progression. This is evident in the opening song with lines such as “Sometimes it feels so lonely/Like the wind/It blows right through me!” and it’s also particular detrimental to the second track. “Bad Deeds” is relatively good instrumentally, but lyrics such as “Media machine burned out/Turned out/Turn about the whereabouts” and “Listen/To the knockout!/Torture tactics/Drastic/Fucking plastic/So dramatic/Tragic/Automatic/Overactive/Your antics/Just scratched it” seem completely random and really hurt the listener’s ability to appreciate the song.
Surrounded by a few tracks which are, at best, solid and, at worst, filler, the one-two punch of lead single “Daybreak” and title track “Trust No One” mark the highlight of the album. The rhythm section is tight, whilst the guitar work is interesting from start to finish, and displays more of the Gothenburg-inspired melodies they’ve incorporated into their sound. Dez’s vocals complement the tracks perfectly and the only complaints come in the bridges of the respective tracks. The self-titled has a pretty generic, groove-filled breakdown, a bridge which was quite unimaginative. “Daybreak” on the other hand has a beautiful, mellow, and melodic bridge with a strong post-rock tinge to it. The way they segued into it was perfect, and a great change-up from their usual sound. The passage was crying out for melodic vocals or, failing that, a guitar solo, yet instead it awkwardly transitioned back into groove territory. What could’ve been the highlight of the album and perhaps a sign of future things to come with this lineup instead ended in wasted potential.
Overall, Trust No One is another solid effort from DevilDriver. There is nothing here that will win over people that didn’t like the band beforehand. There’s too much filler and missed opportunity for this to be their best album, but it’s certainly strong enough to mean it’s not their worst. The record will doubtlessly get people head-banging and provide further fuel for the famous DevilDriver circle pits. Fans of the band should eat this up due to how consistent it is with their previous output, but outside observers may be left wishing for a little more.
DevilDriver – Trust No One gets…