Review Summary: With more adventurous leanings, Trap Them could create an album of different shades and hues, instead of just being painted in several shades of black.Darker Handcraft
begins with but a second
of high pitched feedback before kicking off in endless propulsion. It's a relentless album that finds Trap Them delivering their music with a punk execution and metal aesthetics while traversing the entire galaxy of "heavy". Death metal guitar tones, grindcore chug, and straight up rock'n'roll groove fuel the inner mechanisms of the band's playing. Though these various influences combine to create a niche sound to call their own, Trap Them is essentially providing listeners with several approaches to the same concept; ceaseless aggression.
Kurt Ballou returns to the reigns of producer to provide Trap Them once again with his trademark "polished harshness" gloss. Needless to say, the production is fantastic, allowing the band to sound louder, thrashier, and more acidic than they've ever
been while still providing a bass heavy bedrock to their foundation. Amazingly tight even in the most barbaric moments, Trap Them sound considerably more composed on this record. The guitars are wielded with as much uncanned grace as a chainsaw; buzzing and whirring and constantly
cutting away at the thicket of drumming. Tracks such as "Every Walk a Quarantine" and "The Facts" are as humid and sardonic as some of the most venomous music you're likely to come across in the realm of "hardcore". The band even trudges through bleak muck on "Sordid Earnings", and album closer, "Scars Align"; coating themselves with a thick sludge that provides (much needed) breath catching moments.
Yet in the end, Darker Handcraft
is not only the band's finest record, but also, the one that proves they may need to shift gears a bit. There's little variety over the course of the album (as far as sounds and styles go), which eventually turns catharsis into withering blatancy. Things aren't necessarily moving in one direction, but instead, in one speed. Each song carves out moments where things coil back and recede before taking off in the opposite direction, sending flak in all directions. The problem is, they have very few
targets, even if they hit them all with pinpoint accuracy. It would've been interesting to see the band experiment with more atmospheric landscapes, such as on the track "Drag the Wounds Eternal" (where I hear the slight color of organs, drone, and undistorted guitars). It's a song like this that shows the band knows how to approach suffering in more than one way, it's just they choose not to.
Though the band puts full blunt force behind every
punch they throw (and believe me, there are a LOT of them being tossed), they make little effort to distinguish between their right and left fists. Regardless of this, Darker Handcraft
is still incredibly claustrophobic, crusty, and enjoyable in all regards it's to be taken in. Trap Them has managed to distill their volatile formula into something more polished and perfected. With this praise given, there's also a signaling that this band needs to move into a different direction; something I know they're capable of. With more adventurous leanings, Trap Them could create an album of different shades and hues, instead of just being painted in several shades of black.
You hear that? The same high pitched feedback that kicked off Darker Handcraft
is still ringing in your ears, even though the album has finished. That's the sound of tinnitus setting in. Once again, Trap Them have loaned their talents to their favorite motif; disorienting loudness.