Album Review – DevilDriver / Trust No One (2016)

If Dez Fafara and his crew say we must trust no one, who are we to go against the circle pit masters of California?

Rating5

coverWhen frontman Dez Fafara and his sick crew known as American Groove/Melodic Death Metal band DevilDriver say we must trust no one, we should definitely follow their trenchant and wise advice. Cursing the clouds over California for almost 15 years, Santa Barbara’s own circle pit masters are back with their seventh studio album, entitled Trust No One (also stylized as trust no one.), another solid release by a band that, above all things, knows how to craft exciting metal music for the masses. Longtime band member and guitarist Mike Spreitzer described the album as “the record (I’ve) been wanting to write for 12 years”, while Dez stated that the album is “a vicious record filled with huge grooves and big hooks, guitar bass assery and thundering drums”.

Although not as amazing as their 2007 classic The Last Kind Words, let’s say that the music found in Trust No One, the first album since their 2013 release Winter Kills (making it the longest time span between two albums in the band’s history due to Dez reuniting with his former band, American Nu Metal act Coal Chamber), matches considerably with the words by Mike and Dez, living up to the band’s history despite all the recent lineup changes. This is their first album without original members John Boecklin and Jeff Kendrick on drums and guitars, respectively, being replaced by drummer Austin D’Amond (formerly of Chimaira) and guitarist Neal Tiemann. Chris Towning, who played bass on Winter Kills, also left and got replaced by former Static-X bassist, Diego “Ashes” Ibarra.

Opening their metallic ceremony, Testimony of Truth is as melodic and groovy as expected from DevilDriver, with the guitars by Mike and Neal sounding polished and brutal at the same time. Furthermore, when the opening track has lyrics like these, you know the band is on the right aggressive path (“The truth is I never liked you this / testimony is one of truth you’re just / a means to an end / With no redeeming thing about you / Walk in my shoes / This dead empty space / Walk in my shoes / This burdens on you!”). In Bad Deeds, the band’s traditional Groove Metal arises, crushing the listener to the sound of the harsh vociferations by Dez and the imposing beats by Austin, also sustaining a creepy atmosphere in the background no matter how violent the music gets; while My Night Sky is an old school DevilDriver composition where all instruments (including vocals) are in line with all their previous records, being therefore tailored for diehard fans of the band.

This Deception proves that when DevilDriver accelerate their music things get even more exciting, resulting in a potent circle pit generator thanks to the awesome job done by Austin on drums and the always piercing sound of their guitars, followed by Above It All, a song which we could call the epitome of American Groove Metal. Dez has another solid vocal performance leading the band’s attack, and although it’s far from being the most creative song in the world, it works quite well in the end. The first single of the album, called Daybreak, blends Melodic Death Metal with Groove Metal, with both Mike and Neal firing some blazing riffs while Dez keeps growling like a beast, whereas the title-track, Trust No One, might be one of the most intricate and harmonious compositions of the band from their past few albums. I love the vocal lines by Dez, transpiring absolute anger and hatred, as well as the song’s kick-ass guitar solo, not to mention the simple but effective message of the song, which makes total sense in modern society (“There’s always a need for violence / Slowly singing to the somber sun / Give my regards to the ones you call your angels / Dusted I’m the only one”).

devildriverThe last part of the album begins with more violence and groove in the form of Feeling Ungodly, a good composition that unfortunately falls flat after a while due to its very repetitive vocals and riffs, followed by the low-tuned bass lines and rhythmic drumming of the decent Retribution, with its second half getting more exciting and obviously adding more electricity to the final result. And finally, the band gets back to a more thrilling and raging state in the closing tune entitled For What It’s Worth, where its beautiful guitar lines and solos perfectly complement Dez’s unique barks and the always violent aura found in their music.

In summary, while many will consider this just another DevilDriver album, I personally think Trust No One is not only an important landmark in their career and an album that will keep the band alive and on fire for the next coming years, but also a solid statement that confirms Dez and Mike won’t be negatively impacted by all the changes that happened to the band recently. Quite the contrary, they were able to absorb all the negativity, go against all odds and turn adversity into high-quality heavy music. And, as already mentioned, when a band like DevilDriver tells us we should trust no one, who are we to go against them? Stay alert to every wolf in sheep’s clothing around you, keep listening to the sincere and hostile music by bands like DevilDriver, and everything else will be a lot easier in your life.

Best moments of the album: Bad Deeds, This Deception and Trust No One.

Worst moments of the album: Feeling Ungodly and Retribution.

Released in 2016 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Testimony of Truth 4:43
2. Bad Deeds 3:46
3. My Night Sky 4:28
4. This Deception 3:47
5. Above It All 3:22
6. Daybreak 4:23
7. Trust No One 4:38
8. Feeling Ungodly 3:41
9. Retribution 4:01
10. For What It’s Worth 4:31

Digipak/Limited Edition/Japanese Edition bonus tracks
11. House Divided 4:56
12. Evil on Swift Wings 4:17

Band members
Dez Fafara – vocals
Mike Spreitzer – guitars
Neal Tiemann – guitars
Diego “Ashes” Ibarra – bass guitar (live)
Austin D’Amond – drums

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