There’s hard working, and then there’s doing a good job. Coming into this album, Devildriver, formed in 2003, had managed to put out six albums in ten years. Trust No One, coming three years after 2013’s Winter Kills, has broken the American groove metal band’s tradition of a new record every other year.
The reason for the relatively extensive gap could be mostly put down to frontman Dez Fafara’s, a walking tattoo more than anything else, decision to run off with his old band Coal Chamber for a while. Fafara’s returned, but in the meantime the two remaining foundation members – guitarist Jeff Kendrick and drummer John Boecklin, much loved in metal drumming circles – have called it quits.
That’s left Devildriver with Fafara, long-serving guitarist Mike Spreitzer and new boys Neal Tiemann and Austin D’Amond (as Kendrick and Boecklin’s respective replacements), along with a part-time bassist, Diego Ibarra. With such a huge change, you would expect a few elements to Devildriver’s rather staid songwriting patterns.
Well, you’d be wrong. They say never read a book by it’s cover, but the prosaic album artwork – a growling wolf is hiding within a Trojan sheep – is a rather good barometer of what follows inside.
It doesn’t take long listening to Trust No One that this record is metal for metal’s sake. There might be an abundance of thick riffs, plunging chords, quakes caused by lighting bass drumming as well as a snapping snare and Fafara’s trademark howls and snarls, but all these elements rarely meet up to form any sort of coherent or memorable sequence.
Daybreak, the lead single, appears to be the only track where Trust No One engrosses for more than a few seconds. The song incorporates a marching snare beginning, before bringing in a nice passage of power metal-esque tapping and dropping into a double denouement in the pre-bridge and bridge in a manner that is surprisingly early.
Really, though, they are just moments in a song. They’re good, for sure – there’s also the galloping shuffle groove in This Deception, the industrial flavour of My Night Sky, the ever-so-slightly memorable hook in Above it All for starters.
However, when most of the best bits of the album are just moments, brought out just for a difference in the way that characters are performing some interesting action to spice up the otherwise plain dialogue, the true quality quickly becomes transparent.
While Devildriver may be a diligent band, the hasty turnaround of this modest record suggests that the group are focusing on doing their job rather than working hard.
‘Trust No One’ is out May 13, grab a pre-order here.