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Trap Them - "Darker Handcraft" (CD)

Trap Them - "Darker Handcraft" CD cover image

"Darker Handcraft" track listing:

1. Day Forty Two: Damage Prose (2:37)
2. Day Forty Four: Slumcult & Gather (3:23)
3. Day Forty One: Every Walk A Quarantine (2:55)
4. Day Forty Three: Evictionaries (2:53)
5. Day Thirty Two: All By The Constant Vulse (3:30)
6. Day Thirty Four: Sordid Earnings (1:32)
7. Day Thirty Three: The Facts (3:23)
8. Day Thirty Five: Saintpeelers (1:15)
9. Day Forty Six: Manic In The Grips (:58)
10. Day Thirty Seven: Sovereign Through The Pines (1:36)
11. Day Forty Seven: Drag The Wounds Eternal (2:35)
12. Day Thirty Six: Scars Align (4:28)

Reviewed by on April 11, 2011

"With a new drummer and record label in tow, the band continues to warp our minds with tales of sickness and torment posing as everyday life. "

The days keep going on and things continue to look grim on Trap Them’s third album, “Darker Handcraft.” The band made waves with their blend of grind/hardcore on 2008’s “Seizures In Barren Praise” and now crusty death metal can be included into the equation on “Darker Handcraft.” The band has worked on fine-tuning their early sound without sacrificing intensity or gritty undertones. Increased song lengths and a fuller production works favors in the next evolutionary step for Trap Them. With a new drummer and record label in tow, the band continues to warp our minds with tales of sickness and torment posing as everyday life.

The past two albums have had sonic chaos focused on precision and a get-in, get-out-quick mentality. This type of approach on "Darker Handcraft" is reserved for the space of tunes between “Saintpeelers” and “Sovereign Through The Pines.” For four minutes of combined time, Trap Them goes back to the “Sleepwell Deconstructor” days with a healthy dose of grind bombs. Mouths will drop from the jarring transition to this from the groove of “The Facts,” which has an upbeat, almost dance-worthy beat.

Every band member plays their part in making this transition painless. New drummer Chris Maggio has no learning curve in getting situated into the band, providing a solid structure with bassist Stephen Lacour. Vocalist Ryan McKenney screams and yells his way through 30 minutes like a man being tortured by a sadist. Guitarist Brian Izzi’s unique tones and unstructured playing remain a large part of the band’s charm, and it isn’t all about playing fast for Izzi. “Scars Align” slows the pace in a style reminiscent of a less-excessive version of “Mission Convincers.”

The first half avoids any outright grind-tastic tracks, which may disappoint fans. Instead, the noisy aspects of the band are built into tracks that now pass the three-minute mark. That may not seem impressive, but when taking under consideration only one track on their last album even graced that time, it becomes far more important. “Damage Prose” and “Every Walk A Quarantine” never relent from a breath-stealing kick, keeping melody away like a bastard child. Yet again, producer Kurt Ballou puts his magic grimy touch to the album and makes sure the band won’t get too glossy on us anytime soon.

Trap Them has made slight changes in their sound with “Darker Handcraft.” The death metal influences shine clearer and merge with the hardcore and grind elements more distinctly. The songs are sharper than ever before. The band hits more positive notes than negative with their progressed direction. However, a few more grind-orientated tracks in the beginning would have spread the album out better, and the instrumental “Sordid Earnings” doesn’t do much for the record. Pushing those complaints aside, “Darker Handcraft” is a natural move into territory that suits the increasingly desolate nature of the lyrics.

Highs: Greater death metal influence, grimy production, intense as hell

Lows: Not enough grind tracks, instrumental "Sordid Earnings" is a waste of space

Bottom line: The band adds in death metal to their crust grind/hardcore sound to create a frightful and jarring third album.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)