“They wanted to make to make it ugly and bitter,” states the press release that arrived at our office (read: E-mail) with this one. And I’ll come right out and say it: they did exactly what they set out to do.
Trap Them’s backstory: Ryan McKenney (former vocalist of Backstabbers Incorporated) and Brian Izzi (guitarist of December Wolves) met when they were working together at Newbury Comics in Salem, NH. (This is particularly interesting to this writer because that is one of the Newbury Comics locations I frequent.) They became fast friends and, eventually, roommates, at which point they decided to put a band together and began writing. As their story goes, they released all sorts of EPs and split vinyls — and a vinyl only EP — before they’d reach the point where they started releasing full-length albums with 2007’s Sleepwell Deconstructor. Their very first “release” was a 5 song, 5 minute demo, released on a 3″ CD with a photocopied cover, which they made 100 copies of and sent around to various labels. Wiki refers to them as a grindcore/hardcore punk band, which might explain why their initial songs were so short. These days, however, I would be more inclined to call them death metal — they cite Entombed and Dismember as influences, though it’s not difficult to hear the influence of hardcore acts like Black Flag and Suicidal Tendencies in McKenney’s vocals.
To be perfectly honest, Blissfucker is the first Trap Them album I’ve ever heard, so I can’t compare it to their previous records. (I only started getting really “into” death metal a couple of years ago and Blissfucker is their first album in three years.) But I can tell you what I love about it.
The first time I listened to Blissfucker it wasn’t McKenney’s angry, caustic vocals or Izzi’s grinding, buzzsaw riffs that grabbed me. Both are astoundingly good at what they do, but it was the bone-crushing, balls to the wall drumming, which is provided by Brad Fickeisen (No Salvation, ex-The Red Chord). Now that I’ve listened to the album over 10 times, I am blown away by each member’s contribution, but it’s those drums that continue to leap out at me and make me want to bang my head. Check out “Lungrunners” and you’ll see what I mean. Fickeisen’s stampeding drums are bloody insane. You see the word pulverizing thrown around a lot in metal reviews, perhaps even in my own, but there isn’t a more perfect word to describe his style. You’d swear he was playing so hard that he was trying to demolish the drums. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s completely destroyed some along the way.
Another thing to love about Blissfucker: the way they blend slow, grinding sludge metal in with everything else, which makes “Savage Climbers” one of the moodiest and darkest songs on the album. It’s actually when the music slows down like this that it sounds its most ominous. McKenney’s vocals are a threat; combined with his eye-opening lyrics, you could say they’re a veritable enemy of society. But it’s during those parts when there are no vocals that utter darkness breaks though the songs, eliminating any trace of light in its path. This is no more evident than during “Bad Nones,” which finds Fickeisen’s cymbals slowly dragging along with Izzi’s monstrously heavy riffs for nearly two minutes before vocals and bass guitar are added to the mix. And by then, the damage has been done. All it takes is their repetitive cymbals and grinding, sludge-y guitars to fill your head with blackness, to which end one imagines that Black Sabbath has been a big influence on the band and in the best way possible. Another highlight is “Let Fall Each and Every Sedition Symptom,” a hypnotic number bursting with primitive aggression. Really though, each and every track on Blissfucker is relentless, technically accomplished and evocative.