Nu-metal was once arguably the biggest subgenre of metal around, with bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn selling hundreds of thousands of albums a week. Certainly, the genre reached its commercial peak at the end of the ’90s // early 2000s, but what about the bands that rode the second or third wave of the genre? There was a massive sea change brewing in the form of the burgeoning metalcore movement, and the days of major labels signing almost every nu-metal band on the planet were quickly set to change.
Plenty of these bands had obvious songwriting talent, though. Trust Company were one such band, releasing 3 records and getting signed to the giant Geffen Records after just 2 songs at a showcase – quite literally going from a band in a van, to a tour bus and recording in a studio where some of rock’s biggest records were made. The band’s 2002 debut album, The Lonely Position Of Neutral, was anchored by arguably the band’s signature song, “Downfall”, and contained a very interesting mix of genres that managed to hit the sweet spot between modern rock, alt-metal, and nu-metal – except without the hip-hop/rap influences.
It’s important to note that The Lonely Position Of Neutral was recorded with Don Gilmore, who produced the then-platinum (eventually Diamond certified) smash hit Hybrid Theory, from some band called Linkin Park. You may have heard of them. Granted, this was right around the time when major labels were still snapping up any band that sounded remotely close to the multi-platinum acts of the day, but TrustCompany had some real talent. Vocalist/rhythm guitarist Kevin Palmer, in particular, managed to bring some of the catchiest vocal melodies of the day to rock radio, especially on album opener “Downfall”. In fact, it’s this song that managed to get them signed, due in large part to the fact that Palmer certainly has a unique and accessible vocal style. It’s one you’ll have to hear to really get a feel for.
Of course, “Downfall” isn’t the only impressive track here. The much softer “Hover”, which also should have been a hit single, shows the softer and more vulnerable side of the band. However, tracks like this are executed solidly, with genuine emotion and melody in the choruses. While certainly bringing to mind the likes of Deftones and Linkin Park, they manage to do so without sounding derivative. In fact, there’s even pop-punk influences strewn about the record, making it a bit more accessible and catchy to the ear. The band’s dichotomy between heavier and lighter fare collide best on mid-album cuts “Figure 8” and “Running From Me”, the former of which is yet another track that could have been a hit single. There’s also “Falling Apart”, which explodes into one of the best choruses the band ever wrote – but it also crashes into an onslaught of alt-metal riffs in the middle.
While certainly an album that fit a certain time period in the early 2000s, and one that (slightly) dips in quality toward the end (though, this has more to do with it being frontloaded), overlooking The Lonely Position Of Neutral as a really solid rock record would be foolish. Finding a sweet spot between alt-metal, nu-metal, post-grunge, and even a little pop-punk certainly couldn’t have been easy, and one listen to this record and you’ll know this – Trust Company deserved better. While it’s possible new music from the band may surface in the future, there’s no way that you’re still not singing along to “Downfall”.