Sound — 7
It's been 3 years since Trapt released a full-length studio album, and during that time the California natives have made a few changes, namely a new guitarist and label. Probably the biggest transition came only this past March, during which time former guitarist Simon Ormandy was replaced by Rob Torres. Regardless of what Ormandy's reason for leaving was, the guitarist still has a heavy presence on the latest record Only Through The Pain, which is not a huge departure from what we've heard in the past. As the band's debut studio album on Eleven Seven Music (they also released the concert album Live! last year), Trapt could have tried out some new styles with their newfound freedom at the Nikki Sixx-founded label, but the band did decide to play it relatively safe. Of course, a band doesn't have to prove itself musically by going out on a ledge on every single record, and Trapt fans will probably be just as content to hear the reliable, radio-ready songs that Trapt usually churns out. There are quite a few songs that lean toward more of a power ballad sound than a straightforward rock sound, and in some ways that causes the album to lag a bit. I'm not anti-ballad, but Trapt is extremely effective when it delivers some distortion-heavy riffs. The opening song Wasteland is one of the biggest highlights with an infectious intro and energy. There's a really nice lead guitar line underneath the chorus that is a bit hidden in the mix, but it enhances the power chords that drive most of the track. Curiosity Kills and Cover Up are other standout tracks that give the band an edgier sound. You get some nice touches like a wah pedal in Curiosity Kills, while Cover Up starts everything off with a pounding bass pedal (think Running With The Devil). On the other side of the spectrum is The Last Tear, a very mellow offering that sounds a good deal like 3 Doors Down. Between the laid-back tempos and vocalist Chris Brown's smooth vocals, there are actually quite a few tracks on Only Through The Pain that are worthy of that comparison.
Lyrics — 7
In terms of the themes and lyrics found on the record, they tend to mirror the familiarity of the music. There is nothing too out of the ordinary in either department, but that isn't necessarily a jab at the band. Their lyrics do have some nice imagery at times, which is evident in songs like Black Rose. Brown sings, Black rose your thorns are cutting into me for the last time; Black rose I watched your petals wilt away I couldn't bring you back to life. We've probably heard similar metaphorical themes in the past, but at least the band is at least attempting to add a bit of color to the lyrics.
Overall Impression — 7
The jump to Eleven Seven Records hasn't really altered Trapt's sound, and there are more than a few songs that scream for airplay. What the new label might do, however, is give Trapt the promotion and backing it needs to regain the popularity it had back in 2002 with debut self-titled album. While the band does deliver some solid rock singles on Only Through The Pain, the band never pushes the envelope too far. But again, the band isn't necessarily embraced for being the heaviest rock outfit on the scene, and there are plenty of Trapt fans who will enjoy the new album as much as their earlier work.