Review Summary: Have you some new torture for me?
When it comes to that wonderful mixed zone of hardcore, punk, and metal, the scene has cooled in recent years. While stalwarts Converge, Cave In, and others still are making efforts and new guys like Architect are putting their spin on it, the productivity of the genre itself isn't what it was in 2001. That being said, it's a fantastic day when I get to review an album like Darker Handcraft
from Trap Them, their third album, and a killer one at that.
New Hampshire's Trap Them, while known for their grindcore and hardcore tendencies, have changed things up a bit on their most recent effort. Instead of focusing on full-on blast, they've tempered up their sound a bit with catchier moments and a bit less noise. The maturation doesn't seem forced, and the dynamics are a welcome change, giving these songs a sense of progression as opposed to simply aggresion.
Blissfully unaware that distortion can be turned off, Trap Them belt out flurries of high-intensity, punk-fueled discordance, thick, fretboard sliding hooks, and envelop the entire thing in a jagged, mid-saturated Gothenburg production that has a great low end when the occasional djent pops up. The ethereal sound conjured up here is a perfect match for the aggressive and paranoid nature of the band, and serves the purpose of sharpening them up and making them ready for a bit of the old ultraviolence. Subtle nods to doom, death, and noisecore crop up to give some much needed texture to a release which is, for better or worse, the aural equivalent to a gunshot wound filmed at six hundred frames per second, and every bit of pain is expressed to it's fullest ability at such a high resolution.
From first gear to fifth there's a lot to like: The abrasive, constant assault on your ears from the initial opener "Damage Prose" shows a band on a mission at the top of their game. As the album progresses, the basic hardcore punk layers give way to grooves ten feet tall in "Evictionaries" and culminates in the albums strongest track: "Saintpeelers". This is a masterpiece of hardcore aggression, with every element in place, every note perfect, and with the intensity of a predator taking down it's prey, you simply cannot go wrong with this inspired piece.
Things are not all good in Darker Handcraft
, because while the first eight tracks all simply kick ass (Even the quickie "Sordid Earnings" is great), the last two seem to peter out a bit. Taking a page from the post-y Converge efforts, "Drag the Wounds Eternal" tries to shift gears (Well, it succeeds, but the only thing shifted is quality) and bring a chiming, layered track. With a lot of post work, there needs to be an eventual endpoint, a crescendo, and in this case it simply goes nowhere. The last song here, "Scars Align", is a much better effort that its predecessor... but in comparison to the rest of what's on display, it almost feels like they viewed what the genre was doing and felt obligated to include a track like this. I understand it's supposed to fill the "epic closer" slot, and it does it alright, but it's about a minute too long and the overall quality and focus of Darker Handcraft
would've had a net benefit if both of the last two songs were removed.
Overall, this is a fantastic album, well worth checking out if the recommended listens are something you dig.