Review Summary: For those who wished Linkin Park, Saliva, et al. had never changed, please welcome back TRUSTcompany.
"We're not interested in making the same album twice." How many times have you heard such a quote from a band member leading up to the release of a new album? It is practically a cliche nowadays, one that - technically speaking - should be a given anyway. Are there, however, instances when such an objective is not only legitimate, but also sensible? Ignoring money-grabbing pop-stars looking for another cash-in, a group polishing up their sound from an under-produced debut could be one occurrence. Another could be that of an outfit who have been broken up (or on hiatus) for a number of years. In such a situation, the band may be required to re-establish their base sound, before being allowed to make any significant progression. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back melodic hard-rockers TRUSTcompany.
Following their gold certified debut LP 'The Lonely Position of Neutral', TRUSTcompany fell victim to the record company machine. Taken off tour to complete their second album, the Alabama-based quartet were rushed into the studio where they would face all kinds of external pressures as to what their music should sound like. The result was 'True Parallels', another solid & consistent effort that simply was nowhere near as memorable as their debut, and not helped by the fact that Geffen Records failed to promote it. Having taken a few years off pursuing other projects (most notably the under-achieving Amity Lane), the nucleus of the band are back together (under independent label E1) to release their third LP 'Dreaming In Black and White'.
When it comes to rock music, we all have our nostalgic favorites. Depending upon which era you grew up in, it could be Bon Jovi, Nirvana, Green Day, The Chilli Peppers or Linkin Park. All are bands we may look back upon with pleasant remembrances of forming our musical taste, almost disregarding their inferior later change in sound. While TRUSTcompany were less successful than any of these artists, they did accomplish a similar effect, at one stage having their songs blasted all over radio, video games, extreme sports broadcasts and pro-wrestling events. Hitting a sweet spot when it came to finding a fan-friendly median of nu-metal, hard-rock & alt-metal, the band consistently delivered engaging quiet/loud dynamics, melodic vocals and infectious choruses. Out front, Kevin Palmer was the make-or-break aspect, his distinctive voice almost contradictory in its angsty harmonies, giving off an over-produced vibe with his sleek over enunciations that would often craft a hook out of a single word!
To be blunt, nothing has considerably changed third time around. The band may be tighter and harder hitting, the lyrics more mature and world-weary, and there is the occasional subtle use of synth, but 'Dreaming In Black and White' is otherwise just another TRUSTcompany album, with the band clearly looking to restore both their sound and fanbase. Opener 'Close Your Eyes ('Til It's Over)' begins excitingly, before showcasing the quiet/loud dynamics which made their debut so tantalizing. The highlights however, are the title track and lead single 'Heart In My Hands', cuts which are quite simply classic TRUSTcompany with their infectious sing-along choruses. Elsewhere, the band are at their best when playing straight-ahead melodic rockers, with the attempts at power ballads ranging from misguided to effective variety. Overall, it is another consistent effort, even if it is one or two tracks overlong, meaning that some songs begin to bleed into each other as the 45 minute duration comes to an end.
'Dreaming In Black and White' is unlikely to change anyone's mind about TRUSTcompany. Whatever you thought of 'True Parallels' is likely to be repeated here. The band will undoubtedly cop some flak for not significantly progressing their sound, thus making the album feel a little dated since hints of nu-metal and traditional hard-rock occasionally surface. However, that would be ignoring the objectives of this LP. In satisfying their fans who had hoped they had never broken up, while looking to earn new followers who have been deprived of accessible melodic hard-rock, 'Dreaming In Black and White' is an album for those who wished Linkin Park, Saliva, et al. had never changed. It arguably challenges the notion of not making the same album twice... And it may not have been possible had TRUSTcompany not disbanded.
Recommended Tracks: Heart In My Hands, Dreaming In Black and White, Skies Will Burn & Almost There.