Picture this: total immersion in violent, gut-wrenching sound. What graces the ears in the instance of cruel madness? A warp-speed, head-on truck collision on the German autobahn…or the steel and concrete of an office building crashing down to ruins upon the fragile bodies of those unfortunate enough to be inside…or the eruption of a lunatic’s automatic weapon unloading in a busy city park. Maybe a suspiciously planted package in a subway station ticking down to the zero mark and unleashing lethal hell on the platform…or a screaming child, possessed by hellish demons and in desperate need of the neighborhood priest for a bit of the old exorcism trick…perhaps what young DJ Vanita “Stretch” Brock most likely heard (and felt) when the infamous Leatherface tore the the wall with his trusty chainsaw to only mentally scar her even further. These situations are all proof that sound can definitely be frightening. Chances are, if you haven’t personally experienced these things, you can still most likely use your imagination to put yourself into the circumstances. And if you can indeed picture that kind of chaos, it surely wouldn’t be very difficult to understand and see where fear resides within sound.
Bear witness to Seattle, Washington’s grinding hardcore punk quintet of death, Trap Them. Taking their name from the 1977 film Trap Them And Kill Them and originally formed in 2001 as a side project between vocalist Ryan McKenney and guitarist Brian Izzi when both were cohorts in Backstabbers, Inc., the band has since sharpened their ability to produce pulse-quickening, blood-boiling, brain-jarring sound to a razor sharp edge. Drawing inspiration from the likes of hardcore punk outfits Black Flag and Tragedy, and effortlessly stitching it onto the thrashing viciousness of a band like Entombed with a twist of grind insanity for that extra zest, Trap Them deliver their goods with deadly precision, loaded heavy with personal and political lyrical concepts, discordant riffing and pulverizing percussion.
The latest full-length from Trap Them, Darker Handcraft (Prosthetic Records), is a definite step forward in the D-beat infused conquest mounted by the band in their previous efforts. Where releases like 2007’s Sleepwell Deconstructor and 2009’s Seizures in Barren Praise unleashed heavy fire upon the masses, this record picks up the torch and burns all survivors. With Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou lending his production skills to the record at Godcity Studio, the Trap Them roster now features former Coliseum drummer, Chris Maggio, among the ranks. Maggio’s presence is evident throughout and raises the band’s impact to a whole new level. Coupled with what has countless times been referred to as “buzzsaw” riffing, the instrumentation of the band serves as the perfect assault vehicle for vocalist Ryan McKenney’s hell-spawned yet emotional guttural screams. Stylistic transitions are gradual here. Opener “Damage Prose” fires off immediately with enough hard-driving riffs and double bass to, as the old saying goes, tear this fucker down. “Slumcult & Gather” (a definite highlight) carries on with a similar D-beat structure, sure to melt the faces of the weak, left and right. Meanwhile, “Saintpeelers” and “Sovereign Through The Pines” both turn up the heat with sheer, sinister grind while numbers like “Drag The Wounds Eternal” and closer “Scars Align” bear a fist-pumping rock-meets-Swedish death vibe coursing through their rumbling backbones.
When it’s all said and done, Trap Them have built yet another rabid killing machine in the form of twelve, hard-as-steel anthems of seething rage that takes things up a notch or two. They have indeed built a monster. They have created a Darker Handcraft!!