Saturday 26 July 2014

Trap Them - Blissfucker (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 10/6/2014
Label: Prosthetic Records

‘Blissfucker’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1). Salted Crypts
2). Habitland
3). Gift and Gift Unsteady
4). Lungrunners
5). Organic Infernal
6). Sanitations
7). Bad Nones
8). Former Lining Wide The Walls
9). Savage Climbers
10). Ransom Risen
11). Let Fall Each And Every Sedition Symptom


A decade and six critically acclaimed releases (three EPs and three LPs) later, Trap Them have never strayed from the path they chose to walk. The music went from heavy to heavier, from dark to darker. Feral. Between every release, weeks and months were spent spreading the black gospel of distortion around the globe. They got in the van and called it home, continuously gaining attention and respect from their peers, touring alongside such varied acts as Converge, Napalm Death, Every Time I Die, Rotten Sound, Disfear, Toxic Holocaust and many, many more. They didn’t blink twice before finishing a European tour, flying home, landing at midnight at Logan International Airport in Boston and then starting a straight, fifty plus hour drive to California the next morning at 8am to begin a tour with grind legends Extreme Noise Terror. Nothing mattered. They got in the van and they went. There was ugly and bitter music to play.

Now, in 2014, upon the release of their latest full length , Blissfucker, their second release for Prosthetic Records, Trap Them has once again established themselves as not so much a band, but an entity. Recorded in the final months of 2013 at Godcity Studios with long time producer (the unspoken fifth member) Kurt Ballou, the lineup was rounded out by new additions Brad Fickeisen on drums and Galen Baudhuin on bass. The session, three years in the making, resulted in what will widely be considered their opus, forty five plus minutes of an unrestrained, unmedicated, unapologetic display of depression, desperation and blasphemy.

There may be many questions about Trap Them, but there are only two answers. There is none more ugly and, most certainly, none more bitter.

The Band:

Galen Bauhuin | Bass
Brad Fickeisen | Drums
Brian Izzi | Guitars
Ryan McKenney | Vocals


Trap Them’s newest album, ‘Blissfucker’, is kind of a strange experience for me. It’s not that it’s a bad album; in fact, it’s quite good on the whole; there’s just something kind of off about a sizeable chunk of it. The thing is; Trap Them have-prior to this album-carved themselves a niche within the metal universe that is now increasingly swollen and difficult to manage. As more and more d-beat/hardcore is released, it would be harder and harder for them to be able to stay afloat and keep themselves rooted in what has gotten them this far. Wisely, they’ve opted to broaden their repertoire, but they don’t seem to have completely found their footing on the wider platform upon which they now stand.

Let’s look at “Gift and Gift Unsteady”; a song that illustrates their greater variety in a positive way. The opening riff is something that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Blood Mountain/Crack the Skye era Mastodon album, only it’s focused over a beat plain enough to be on an AC/DC album. That riff alternates with another that would feel at home amongst the more reserved songs of prime Unleashed. It might feel too simplistic at first, but the conviction with which it’s played keeps each beat meaningful in the absence of flash. Obviously, I’m not making a case for each song staying at a similar tempo to “Gift and Gift Unsteady”, but it’s a way to keep them from falling into the trap of relying too much on a sound in the process of being buried by an avalanche of new comers.

On the opposite side of the coin, where Trap Them’s more restrained material doesn’t quite get the traction it needs, would be “Organic Infernal”. To my ears, it sounds like “Milk Lizard” from Dillinger Escape Plan pushed through the filter of an early 00s Moonfog Records band, though it does climax with a suitably grandiose breakdown at around 2:30. The central riff is eerie and ugly, but not in the way I think it was intended and I believe that the guitar tone is a hindrance in this case.  The tone is an update of sorts to the Sunlight Studios sound popularized by bands like Dismember and Entombed, but it doesn’t gel so well on the higher-pitched notes. The end result is something that sounds flat; like the guitar equivalent to a singer with a nasal singing voice.

Some of the other entries on the positive side of the ledger are moments where ‘Blissfucker’ picks up the pace, and that often serves them well. “Lungrunners” is a real headbanger from start to finish, highlighted by a stuttering stop-start riff that could be a heavier, uglier cousin to certain sections of Nine Inch Nails’ classic “March of the Pigs”. “Former Lining Wide the Walls” is an unmerciful grindcore feast from top to bottom. The song injects a greater vitality into an album that tends to get lost while trying to figure out the best way to avoid the dead end that subgenre saturation tends to create. So, while Trap Them’s future still looks bright on the whole, ‘Blissfucker’ strikes me as being a transitional album, with greater things in store before too long.

Words by: Daniel Jackson