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Trap Them Darker Handcraft

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Trap Them - Darker Handcraft
01. Damage Prose
02. Slumcult & Gather
03. Every Walk a Quarantine
04. Evictionaries
05. All by the Constant
06. Sordid Earnings
07. The Facts
08. Saintpeelers
09. Manic in the Grips
10. Sovereign Through the Pines
11. Drag the Wounds Eternal
12. Scars Align
Reviewed by: Nick   //   Published: 3/24/2011

It's hard to believe that Trap Them has been around as a fully active band for only roughly four years. I've got fond memories of spending the summer of 2007 running the then little known Sleepwell Deconstructor into the ground with far too many plays and catching the band absolutely destroy at one of my favorite shows of the last few years (Tides, Trap Them, and the incredible Perth Express in Brookline, MA). Since then, the band has rapidly ramped up in popularity thanks to a handful of tremendous releases and a mini resurgence of that Entombed sound that everybody's loving these days. And quite frankly, they completely deserve it. I haven't been disappointed yet.

Yet there was that lead-off "single" by the name of "The Facts" that had me preparing for worst. It was unmistakably Trap Them -- namely due to that beautiful guitar tone with Brian Izzi's signature noodling -- but it awkwardly lumbered through a repetitive song structure with Keith Buckley-induced pseudo-cock-rock-isms for a chorus. Even the massive sounding drumming of new recruit Chris Maggio (a.k.a. the dude that used to help Coliseum along at proper pace) took a back seat to a swagger so out of place with the Trap Them of old.

Luckily, that track proved to be a one-off deal, with Darker Handcraft as a whole shying away from a formula that would have most certainly been disastrous had it occupied the entire record. Instead, we have an album not unlike one of the intermediate steps their forefathers in Entombed used to transition into a more groove-based death 'n roll. Darker Handcraft is still littered with enough blast-beats and quicker chord progressions to avoid being classified as an Uprising-type release, but the trajectory is definitely pointed in that direction.

While their creative songwriting peak was hit with Seizures in Barren Praise, I'm still a hardcore Sleepwell Deconstructor devotee. Maybe that's why tracks like "Sovereign Through the Pines" and "Saintpeelers" hit the spot the most with their faster leans. There's also some praise in line for the disc's most experimental track, "Drag the Wounds Eternal." With a bass presence that sounds almost like a red-lining synth and a touch of melody in the form of sparsely picked guitar lines, it's a welcome departure from the rest of the record's consistent, but given the band's past output, relative safe offerings.

And that's probably the best word to describe Darker Handcraft: safe. The riffs are fantastic -- they can certainly still nail a mid-paced bludgeoning like in the closer "Scars Align" -- and it's definitely the sharpest recording they've ever had in terms of overall quality. I've even come around on "The Facts" since it fits well into the record's pacing. But the meat of the record -- the two and a half minute tunes that just don't feel as unhinged and royally pissed off as they used to -- is what makes it feel like an easier move. So while it won't compete with the perfect embodiments of the three main genres it straddles (Cursed's gritty hardcore, Nasum's grind, and Entombed's death 'n roll), if you come for the riffs, you'll go home happy.

Bottom Line: Trap Them's all grown up. Even though Darker Handcraft doesn't cut like the knife of Sleepwell Deconstructor or take a half-step into (relatively) uncharted territory like Seizures in Barren Praise, it's still a solid listen. But for those new to the band, don't forget to mine that back catalog. It's got some even brighter gems.

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