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Trapt, formed in 1997, are a hard rock band hailing from California and after the usual changes over the years now consist of Chris Taylor Brown (singer, rhythm guitarist), Robb Torres (backing vocals, lead guitarist), Peter Charell (bass guitarist) and Aaron Montgomery (drummer). To date they have made 5 albums, the first, Amalgamation (1997) which was self-released and the rest under either the Warner Bros. or Eleven Seven labels. So far Trapt have really only achieved success in their home country of the US and that success has arrived mainly through one of their albums, the eponymously titled Trapt (2002), which is the album I will be reviewing. This album was the only one out of all 5 to be certified, platinum no less, and to have singles peak within the top 100 for the main US singles charts, and also the only album to have a single appear in the UK charts - Headstrong.
I personally find it a shame that they have not so far had more success, as I find their brand of rock very appealing, with strong guitars, very melodic tunes and Chris Taylor Brand's strong and emotional rock vocals, but perhaps the success of their hit Headstrong actually worked a little against them as it was not particularly indicative of their general style, and maybe people were always trying to recapture that elusive sound in their music to be met with disappointment and thus a waning interest. But who really knows why some bands are more popular than others? Success is clearly a cruel mistress. Enough philosophising and onto the review...
So the album gets off to an explosive, angry start with what is probably their most memorable hit to date "Headstrong" which even had the fortune to be covered by Linkin Park (who didn't sound as good). The most distinctive sound in this song that acts as the backbone is the lead guitar with a pure, highly tuned and melodic sound that dominates in the quieter passages, and works in tandem with rockier guitars in the chorus. Taylor Brown's gruff vocals are very strong in this song and almost take on a Nu Metal quality which really ramps this song up in to what is a genuinely angry metal song. Lyrically they are not overly cryptic or poetic, but still are able to transmit their negative emotions by enhancing the music with wrathful words. "I see your motives inside. Decisions to hide. Back off, I'll take you on. Headstrong, I'll take on anyone."
Another song that errs on the side of metal is "Still Frame" which has quite heavy guitars and again very strong, angry vocals from Taylor Brown at the beginning and during the choruses. However, the interconnecting passages between the choruses are markedly different, as they are of a much slower tempo, with much more melodic guitars and gentler vocals, which makes the song potentially fall more into the rock rather than metal genre, which isn't a bad thing as it makes for an intriguingly varied song. Lyrically this song is a bit more entrancing with a slightly more cryptic element to it "And every time I think I've finally made it I learn I'm farther away than I have ever been before. I see the clock and its ticking away, and the hourglass empty".
For me, these two songs are the only real examples of an angry, metal vibe and the rest fall into one of two categories - mid-tempo, melodic tunes and slow-tempo, melodic tunes. The slowest tempo songs include "Enigma", "Echo" and "These Walls". "Enigma" is the most atmospheric song on the album, with slightly unnerving guitars and creepy undertones to the song. Taylor Brown shows off the softer, more emotional qualities of his voice which works really well with the haunting quality to the song, and this is easily one of my favourite tunes off the album. Lyrically too it is a very dark song "Hey, I'm pleading, my soul is bleeding. I don't want to be left alone, not when I'm right next to you".
"Echo" is similar, with very chilled, yet incredibly melodic guitars in what is a slow building song. Taylor Brown flits between his smooth and emotional range to a much gruffer, rockier voice for the chorus, but this song always remains very restrained and never takes off even as it threatens to in the chorus, yet remains quite a moving song nonetheless as there is a feeling of great melancholia at the heart of it. "Close my eyes. Let the whole thing pass me by. There is no time to waste asking why?". Strangely, "These Walls" follows almost exactly the same formula with gentle melodic passages interspersed with a slightly rockier chorus and the only real difference being an absence of the melancholia haunting "Echo". Lyrically again there is nothing astounding here, but there is enough of a cryptic nature to keep it interesting. "Something missing, left behind. Search in circles, every time I try I've been here before, I've seen you before".
The rest of the album, for me, is more up-tempo mood wise, as well as being more mid-tempo style wise. "Stories" is a faster song with a more pure and acoustic sound to it that has been less obvious in other tracks, but still has the distinctive melodious quality that all of the songs on this album seem to ooze. There is still quite an emotional undertone to this song, emphasised by the smooth, expressive vocals from Taylor Brown, but the music is a bit more upbeat to counteract this. Lyrically there is a bit of a love story being told which makes it quite a sweet song all in all. "I found a line and then it grew, I found myself still thinking of you. I felt so empty and now I'm fine, but still it's burning, when will you be mine?".
"The Game" is again a bit more upbeat, with the emotional side of the song leaning more towards indignant than ever really angry, and so again it never reaches the height of the model song "Headstrong". It is a fairly consistent song with no real highs or lows and is quite catchy with some excellent guitar lead passages but definitely one of the more forgettable songs on the album as it just sort of falls in the middle. "I wouldn't want to be you, this lonely game that you play between your walls you confuse". Likewise, "When All is Said and Done" falls into a similar trap of being a little middle-of-the-road. It is still a tuneful song with some strong vocals, and nice variations, but it's neither a fiery metal tune, nor a beautifully moving tune, and so again is listenable but forgettable rock. "These thoughts trickle down, imaginary lines cut through the ground".
Similarly both "Made of Glass" and "Hollowman" are also a bit formulaic, missing the extreme highs and lows of some of the songs that would really make them standout. They are still very enjoyable, catchy tunes that are easy to sing along to, but never really inspire much inside of you like the much angrier metal tunes, or more emotional slow-tempo tunes. "Made of Glass" does actually have some pretty emotive lyrics "Am I still breathing, have I lost that feeling? Am I made of glass 'cause you see right through me" and vocally Taylor Brown is as expressive as ever, but there just seems to be a slight disconnect with the musical emotions that would really make this song work. "Hollowman" suffers the same fate for me with a similar disconnect. "I can't remember the last time you cared about anything. The last time you allowed yourself to be seen so pretentious your lies unrelenting disguise".
The album closes out with the ironically named "New Beginning" and it is a fitting way to finish. It is also a pretty up-tempo song, with the usual formula of melodic, guitar lead passages building up to a catchy, rocky chorus as well as the expressive range of Taylor Brown from smooth and expressive to gruffly angry. Unlike its namesake, there is not really much new about this song, but it is nice to listen and sing along to. "I'm waiting for something to show me the way to the path that I should take, it's just too real to go ahead and fake". The interesting thing about this song is it leads onto a "hidden track" of sorts which is basically just about 5 minutes of slightly haunting and atmospheric music and just kind of tapers off to conclude the album.
So for me "Trapt" is a bit of a mixed album. There are some very good tunes at polar ends of the album, with the instantly memorable "Headstrong", and slightly chilling "Enigma" as well as a couple of other standout tracks, but sadly the rest are all a little forgettable. They are the kind of songs that you would quite happily listen to when they are on and sing along to, but are all a bit samey, and so not your go-to tracks when you're looking for an album to listen to if you're in the mood to be inspired. This album has been classified as explicit but that is only because of a few choice words, and certainly there are no themes in this album to cause any alarm. All in all a good hard rock album with a small hint of metal in, but nothing to really set your world alight.
1. Headstrong - 10/10
2. Made of Glass - 7/10
3. Hollowman - 7/10
4. These Walls - 7/10
5. Still Frame - 8/10
6. Echo - 8/10
7. The Game - 7/10
8. When All Is Said and Done - 7/10
9. Enigma -10/10
10. Stories - 7/10
11. New Beginning - 7/10