Sound — 4
"DNA" stands as the sixth major label release for Trapt, the post-grunge American group who rose to the top of the charts with a line of radio anthems including "Headstrong," "Still Frame" and "Echo." It has been several years, however, since the diehard fans have gotten an album from this band that sounded remotely like their breakthrough 2002 self-titled effort; the members of Trapt moved in a more experimental manner with 2013's "Reborn," and before that was an album more in line with hard rock on 2010's "No Apologies." Now the band have returned towards a straightforward approach centered firmly around intense chord progressions and anthemic group vocal refrains, perhaps in an attempt to reach towards familiar heights. Many songs throughout "DNA" have strong similarities to the accessible approach of modern heavyweights such as Breaking Benjamin and Chevelle, which although might sound like a sell out move for Trapt actually proves to be a redeeming factor here.
Tracks like "It's Over" and the brooding mid-tempo "Passenger" have all the potential to become fresh staples in the group's catalog, while clearly borrowing a formula centered around a quiet, almost talk-sung verse which gradually gains momentum into a fierce chorus jacked with crunching power chords. There's an emphasis on melody and an intensity behind these songs as well, however where "DNA" quickly loses that same momentum is a lack of diversity within the songwriting chemistry. Each song more or less blends into the next, with many songs ("Getting Even," "Fallen Angel," "Tangled Up in You") just getting caught in the album rotation. By the time we reach four vanilla-sounding acoustic renditions of the same songs from earlier on, the derivative performance found throughout "DNA" just falls far short of being a memorable listen. Wrapped together with a lackluster studio production, the members of Trapt aren't able to find solid ground with this latest release.
Lyrics — 6
Trapt frontman Chris Taylor Brown is probably more or less the main reason behind the casual effort found on "DNA," seeing as he's manned everything from production to synths and samples and even rhythm guitar for the band's past few releases. When it comes down to actually standing behind the main microphone, however, Brown delivers a similarly consistent performance that plays to the album's better side. Brown channels a level of emotion and grit on songs like the previously mentioned "Passenger" and "Human (Like The Rest of Us)" which serve as a few of the record's brief highlights. It's Brown's vocals which help tie together the comparisons to the most recognizable names in active rock, while ultimately not enough to tie together a winning sixteen track record for Trapt.
Overall Impression — 4
Although Trapt's sixth major label and seventh overall release "DNA" could be considered a step in the right direction for the post-grunge unit, it's far from a full fledged return-to-form. There's a rough lack of musical diversity throughout and a seeming unwillingness to deviate into a more aggressive and identifiable sound; instead the members of Trapt appear to try and work in elements of "what's popular" instead of their own approach. While the record does have a few songs which do hit that plane of comparison, a more unique representation would have fared better.