Seizures In Barren Praise
With so many halfassed Converge jockers in the world, it’s always a pleasure to spend some time with a band who puts their Jane Doe influences to good use. Instead of the shameless mimicry practiced by some (coughcoughThePowerandtheGlorycough), Trap Them blends their wild-eyed noisecore roots with crust-friendly Discharge tempos and gravelly Stockholm tones in a way that can be described most accurately as “gnarly.” With their second album, they’ve joined the likes of Lords and Wetnurse in injecting some semblance of life into the walloped-to-shit carcass of hardcore punk in the new millennium.
To be fair, Seizures In Barren Praise wouldn’t be recognizable as hardcore without a working knowledge of the genre’s evolution over the past twenty-odd years, but Trap Them are driven by a decidedly scrappy, punky engine nonetheless. Seizures sees this band move further away from the grindy tempos and pacing of debut Sleepwell Deconstructor and into burlier, more comprehensible territories, which frankly does wonders for their sound. Opener “Fucking Viva” stomps and gnashes with an almost rock’n’roll fervor—Ryan McKenney’s diatribe sounds almost anthemic as the band members join the fray one by one. This kind of mid-paced bludgeoning (also evident on “Gutterbomb Heaven on the Grid” and surprisingly lengthy closer “Mission Convincers”) provides a useful respite from the torrent of scabrous guitars and McKenney’s acid voice, wherein the listener can absorb the band’s abuse at a more measured pace. The rest of the album’s 25 dense minutes are more of the barreling, buzz-happy vitriol that Trap Them have become known for, though the band has eased off the gas pedal. Instead of the insistent blasting of Sleepwell Deconstructor, this disc largely comes at the listener in ninety-to-one-twenty second barrages of d-beats and scrawling, Kurt Ballou-style string poppers (“Guignol Serene”). New drummer Mike Justian (The Red Chord) has worked with McKenney and guitarist Brian Izzi before in Backstabbers Inc. and he sounds perfectly at home here, particularly during the aforementioned slower moments. That said, even with the shift down in tempo, Seizures in Barren Praise is an extremely unforgiving album, and you’ll need both the time for repeated listens and a high pain threshold to get much out of it. Even with time and close attention, Trap Them can prove overwhelming—they really don’t offer much to latch on to in their noisy attack.
Like its predecessors, Seizures rounds out with an excellent production; ol’ Ballou really made the most of Trap Them’s Swedish DM-styled tones—“Flesh and Below” could almost pass for a Dismember song. All told, this chunk of wax is a significant step up for these boys. Even though it can be a bit too much at times, that’s part of Trap Them’s appeal; like their best influences—Converge, Disfear, Rotten Sound, Dismember—they make your head feel like it’s about to explode…erm. In a good way. If you know what I’m talking about then this album is probably for you.