Fast and furious (no, I’m not talking about the latest Vin Diesel vehicle), “Darker Handcraft” by Seattle’s TRAP THEM has all the angst of a lost wallet, the gusting force of a neighborhood hurricane, and the recklessness of trench warfare with its outpouring of wide-eyed threats, wild with young blood and terror and stinging forward like a thousand hive-guarding hornets. There’s a kinetic resolve present, swept up with Sunlight weight (Brian Vincent Izzi on guitar, Steve Lacour on bass), tireless D-beat drumming (Chris Maggio), and incensed vocals (Ryan John McKenney), that mix the rudimentary brutality of the old with the stunned and pace-breaking style of the new, and well, TRAP THEM’s brand of punch-a-stranger Crustcore is as vitriolic as it is ridiculously addictive.
The band’s third full-length opens in broiling fashion with “Damage Prose,” a hard-driving whirlwind of a song that speeds ahead just as quickly as it stops on a dime, yanking out a fierce-as-fuck outro that melds into “Slumcult & Gather,” another peppering dose of jabs and crosses that shines with building drums, wire-shooting guitar lines, and a frenzied circle-pit ending.
If you’re heading into “Darker Handcraft” expecting anything more than a catchy-as-hell experiment in blistering, chugging Crusty Grindy Death, you’re really way out of your element. There’s a wanton amount of pissed off desperation that does little in the way of lurking about; this is abrasive, in-your-face, step-across-this-line-motherfucker Metal that will assuredly attract a huge number of scene kids due to its rapid pace and excellently grim cover art, but please disregard the flies; this is a beatdown of scornful, threatening Core hostility that rides a bullet train from start to bloody finish.
One could argue that there isn’t enough variation on TRAP THEM’s “Darker Handcraft” - that things do little more than charge ahead recklessly, occasionally slowing to knock the lead out of an idling pedestrian.
Yeah, and what’s your point?
“Darker Handcraft” is charging aggression, bottled-up and let loose and its short tracks of intense and memorably constructed songs are the perfect second wind. The seething “Saintpeelers” is a fast-forward Grind spree, “The Facts” is as fun a sing-along TRAP THEM song as you’re apt to find, “Drag the Wounds Eternal” and the closing “Scars Align,” the album’s two slowest songs, employ hints of Doom and Sludge; “All by the Constant Vulse” has a monster grooving headbanger of an outro, and the record highlight, “Evictionaries,” is as solid a Death ‘n’ Roll track you’ll hear in 2011.
There’s little if anything to dislike about TRAP THEM’s latest fist-clenching and teeth-gnashing effort. In a year fraught with a pretty awesome catalogue of Core genre cocktails, this might lead the list. An awesome twin bill with ROTTEN SOUND's "Cursed."
(Online December 16, 2011)