DevilDriver likely won’t earn any new fans with their newest album, Trust No One, but that’s okay. Longtime listeners will find the band they’ve come to love firing on all cylinders throughout the album’s ten uncompromisingly heavy tracks. This is DevilDriver’s seventh album, and it retains the barebones songwriting and extreme heaviness of which they long ago demonstrated their mastery. Tighter production is practically the only significant departure from even their earliest albums. Brief atmospheric diversions from the bleak sound sustained throughout are skillfully woven into a few songs on the album but barely stand out, thanks to a high level of musicianship making these shifts in tone sound seamless. They know what works, and technical flourishes are never incorporated without purpose.
Each song follows a similar formula, opening with a mood-setting riff that quickly gives way to the dual onslaught of Dez Fafara’s barking vocals and Mike Spreitzer’s chugging guitar that characterizes the band’s sound. They seldom let up from their frenetic pace, alternating between tempos that are very fast and very very fast. Even guitar solos are infrequent. Melodic leads overlaying the chaos are often the only respite from the otherwise hard-as-nails sound they push to its limit.
The album’s title essentially acts as its thesis statement. Fafara’s lyrics are written from the perspective of a man betrayed and on his own. “The truth is I never liked you” he growls in opening track “Testimony of Truth.” In “Above it All,” he bellows “thought I knew you / and even more / till I saw your face / then I wanted no more.” Though his lyrics remain vague about the specifics of his betrayal, they communicate clearly that his enemies are deserving of nothing short of death—another recurring theme.
This is all somewhat standard for an extreme metal album. It could be said that what DevilDriver lacks most is originality, though that’s not necessarily to their detriment. Many metal bands will experiment with ballads or forays into other genres, like country or blues, often to attract a wider listenership. Trust No One does none of this, essentially limiting its audience strictly to metalheads, looking for their next fix of low-end tremolo picking and liberal use of double bass pedal. After 14 years as a mainstay of the heavy metal circuit, DevilDriver has earned the right to cater to their fans. Anything else might risk alienating their most devoted supporters. Of course, plenty of bands go so far as to reinvent themselves with great success; either approach is valid, and DevilDriver sticks to doing what they know. Anyone outside their target demographic may prefer to opt for something more dynamic, but existing fans of the band or melodic death metal in general can rest assured that this album will deliver the goods.