Let me start this by saying that I have a soft spot for weird shit. I tend to really like experimental music and noise, even if I’m not always in the mood to listen to it. It all started when I got into Converge many years ago, and my mind has been opened to take in everything from Today Is The Day to Psyopus. This was a major factor when I fell in love with Trap Them’s new album, Darker Handcraft.
Trap Them’s seed was planted in 2001 when former Backstabbers Inc. front man Ryan McKenney met December Wolves guitarist Brian Izzi while working together at Newbury Comics. Their sound is an extremely dark crust band at the core, with an amalgamation of many different styles layered on top. The best way I can think to describe it is if you threw Converge, His Hero Is Gone, Ringworm, Dismember, and Goatwhore into a blender and hit frappe, you might end up with something like Trap Them. On one hand, Darker Handcraft is an album rife with violence and chaos, but on the other, the band has flawlessly meshed all of these elements together to create a smooth, listenable experience. This Salem, NH four piece has dressed to impress and destroy, and they do not disappoint.
The buzz saw-like guitar sound is incredibly dirty, and the tone is possibly the most metal aspect of the whole release, however the riff-age itself is very much punk centric. The majority of the string parts are fairly straightforward and lacking in over-technicality, but they are rock solid and help to paint the frightening picture that is Darker Handcraft. There are also moments of grind and total disarray, and these are also executed very well. The rhythm section features Chris Maggio, formerly of Coliseum. The drums are very diverse, and while they are usually purveyors of by-the-numbers, thrashy punk rhythms, they can range anywhere from minimalistic and forlorn to full on ultra-violence.
Trap Them’s vocals are raspy, monotone, and downright sinister. In my opinion, it’s like a perfect crossover of Human Furnace and Sammy Duet. The overall theme is, in a word, harrowing. The ensemble excels at illustrating a portrait that is both bleak and, at times, terrifying. My favorite song on the album is, ironically, also the softest and simplest of all the tracks – “Drag The Wounds Eternal”. This track is beautiful in a ‘reveling in the destruction of a world burned down’ sort of way, and I have listened to it many times over throughout the last week. I was also a huge fan of the song “Saintpeelers”, which is a visceral grind fest of sorts. The quality of the recording, engineered and produced by Kurt Ballou of GodCity Studio and Converge fame, has the perfect level of rawness and is very complimentary to the band’s style.
Well, as you can clearly see, I’m a huge fan of Trap Them. They’re very much a niche group, but with the current popularity of bands like Converge, I do think that they should be able to appeal to a larger group of people than they would have years ago. If you’re looking for something dark and foreboding and you don’t mind a little discord here and there, you really can’t go wrong with Darker Handcraft.
01. Damage Prose
02. Slumcult & Gather
03. Every Walk A Quarantine
05. All By The Constant Vulse
06. Sordid Earnings
07. The Facts
09. Manic In The Grips
10. Sovereign Through The Pines
11. Drag The Wounds Eternal
12. Scars Align