One thing that I will never get away with is my fanatical love of Trap Them. I had always heard great things about Trap Them in Decibel Magazine, which was my metal bible right around the time Seizures in Barren Praise was released. I had to wait and wait to finally listen to it, because when it was released I was still living in disgusting, dirty Bakersfield, California, where the smell of car exhaust is covered by the lingering smell of a commercial dairy's worth of cow farts. There was no music scene, and finding underground music to listen to was next to impossible. If FYE didn't have it, you were outta luck, son. Luckily, when I moved to Austin, I found that there are a great number of record stores that deal in underground and local music, which makes finding tasty cuts from your favorite bands relatively easy to find. But that is, of course, if you didn't just steal that shit off the Interbung, which is way easier and more cost effective.
Anyway, when I first listened to Seizures, I was completely floored and astonished that there was such a crusty and hateful album that was so damn short. I grew up a punk rocker, and as such, I'm no stranger to the 22-minute full-length album. But having moved away from that lifestyle gave me a new perspective, where good songs were perceived as being at least 11 minutes long with lots of guitar soloing and labyrinthine, wanky song structures. After my first taste of Trap Them, however, I made it my business to buy up everything that they had to offer, including shirts, CD's, my signed Seizures poster, and my favorite hat, which I wear to work every day.
Realistically, it's pretty pathetic.
Darker Handcraft is perhaps Trap Them's finest moment yet. Seemingly gone are the days of Trap Them being a band that actually deserves the "grind" tag, but since I needed one more album to review for Grind Week, having inadvertently shot my Rotten Sound load several weeks ago, I decided that their classical tag would suffice to group them in with all the other bands that they no longer sound anything like. Trap Them has made a gradual and elegant transition into being the finest hardcore/crust band this side of Converge. Their d-beat laden attack has only grown more fierce and focused in the intervening years between their first album, the grindalicious Sleepwell Deconstructor, and Darker Handcraft. I enter, as evidence to this fact, my throbbing, veiny D-boner, which points itself magically at Trap Them's actual, physical location on earth, the way that a compass always finds magnetic north.
Their songwriting has only gotten stronger, also. Opening salvo "Damage Prose" contains perhaps my favorite Trap Them riff, while "The Facts" could actually function as some perfect-world lead radio single, it's catchy riffing, midtempo swagger and Ryan McKenney's vitriolic vocal hook boring into the listener's brain like some kind of brutal tapeworm in dirty cutoff shorts. I point to this as evidence of Trap Them's finest hour yet, and Darker Handcraft stands as a testament to all the naysayers about why I'm such an enthusiastic and rabid fan of the band.
Probably my favorite part of the band, however, is their new(ish) drummer, Chris Maggio. I've seen Trap Them live a couple of times since he joined, and to watch that dude play is awe-inspiring. I understand that it's strange for me, as a guitar player, to focus as much as I do on drummers and how they play, but that Maggio plays with the fury, precision and speed that he does is truly magnificent. I also suspect that he doesn't use a double bass pedal (!), which is a surprising choice in a world where fast feet rule the drum game. And on top of him being a badass motherfucker behind the kit, the dude is also a dreamboat. Like, a hunky piece of beefcake. And I do mean that in the gayest possible way. Look at this band photo:
In a band full of beefcake, Maggio reigns as Beefcake Supreme (far right)
So hunky! Now, is it strange for one straight man to say this about another man? Yes, but not when I do it. When I do it, it's not creepy at all. It's actually cute.
Trap Them have shown the world what they're capable of with this latest offering, and if you don't like it you're wrong and I feel sorry for you. Trap Them are achieving the dream of every band; they get better with every release, bar none. They only get better, like fine wine, or that cheeseburger I found under the seat of my car that one time. Like that cheeseburger, getting crustier and more hardened only gives Trap Them more character and depth, but without all the discomfort of severe food poisoning.