When you get right down to it, anger is the basis for all heavy music. Anger at the world or at personal situations and tragedy, even rage at the pedestrian state of music, and a dedication to writing outside the box, can all lead to great records. Trap Them are an angry band, a band that fires direct blasts of rage and opposition towards anyone who will listen. As a result, Trap Them has consistently put out solid records, though only one other full length in their career. Their newest studio offering Darker Handcraft, their first album on Prosthetic Records, is another solid album, one that comes with some serious changes for the band.
First and foremost Trap Them have welcomed new drummer Chris Maggio, which has breathed some new life into the band. The songs are tighter, crisper, and meaner. The drums are on top of everything, as if Maggio has decided to chase the song down and beat it to death. The other change for Trap Them is the switch to Prosthetic Records from Deathwish Inc. I don’t know if that has done anything for the band, but change often has a way of clearing the head and giving birth to new bursts of creative energy. Trap Them seem ready to take the fight to anybody they can with Darker Handcraft. It’s full of fast and brutal, grindcore influenced Death Metal, connected by strands of the evolution of punk rock.
Trap Them aren’t a band for everybody, even in the extreme music scene. They don’t really adhere to the standard structure of metal, they have more going on that most grindcore bands but lack the technical execution of the more prog-driven metal genres. This kind of hybrid has grown from bands that were looking to be the next evolution in punk rock. Most think that the more chug-chug metalcore bands were the next step from what bands like Black Flag and Void were doing, which really isn’t the case. While the music may be completely different, Trap Them are coming from the same creative direction as those older bands in the way they use feedback, noise, and more off-beat song structures.
Darker Handcraft is an exercise in uncontrolled energy. The songs bounce in all directions, they stop, start, feedback drops in, then they blast off into mach 5 speeds, with the screeching vocals crying out from behind the whole thing. At times the music collapses altogether and the band uses empty space to make their point. The middle of “Sordid Earnings” is a prime example of the weight of the music falling into this hollow, empty space with only drums. I also liked the unexpected straight groove of “Manic In The Grips”, where Trap Them do the unexpected by doing the ordinary. Darker Handcraft brims with these kinds of sudden switches of intent.
The only real complaint I have about Darker Handcraft is the production. This may sound ridiculous but the production is too perfect, too clean, and too meticulous. Songs like these cry out for a dirtier sound, a thicker and imperfect feel to them. When you have such brutality it becomes darker and more human when the sound is completely raw, like an exposed nerve. When that sound is filtered through perfection it loses something, something intangible but something you can feel is missing. Outside of that Darker Handcraft is further proof that extreme music isn’t dead yet.
CRAVEONLINE RATING 7 OUT OF 10
Too Late The Hero
Statement Of Purpose
The End Records
On the complete opposite side of the spectrum is Too Late The Hero, who takes extreme music and manages to make it incredibly boring. It’s amazing how two bands can come from the same direction as far as speed, rhythms and structure and yet make two completely different statements. While Trap Them is brutal and honest, Too Late The Hero is so formulaic it’s disturbing.
Scream-Sing vocals, repetitive riffs, the same fucking song over and over again. I don’t know who decided that Killswitch Engage karaoke was a solid basis for a career, but it’s enough already. Music like this is supposed to sound desperate, but from an adult angle, not like Too Late The Hero who sound like pissy, whiney little kids bitching about how the mall cops ejected them. Their debut album Statement Of Purpose makes the statement that the band has no purpose.
From the opening note, (ironically of the song “Hold Your Applause”) you can feel the oceans of sameness start splashing around you. The music moves at great speeds but it doesn’t breathe, it doesn’t find anything new or interesting to do so it moves along the same route as other metalcore and post-hardcore bands.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with those terms, bands like Too Late The Hero are the bands that cause those definitions to met with cold shudders. I’m sure there are kids out there with gages in their ears and new tattoos who slam into each other and relate to this band, but anybody with even a basic understanding of what extreme music can be will pass Too Late The Hero over without a second look.
I will give Too Late The Hero one thing; they really attempt to sound multi-faceted. The band incorporates their typical sound with some thrash elements and even a bit of pop punk. Problems arise because the band has no idea how to pull it all together in a cohesive manner. The music comes off sounding desperate, like a liar whose tale is starting to spin out of control. It’s obvious the members of Too Late The Hero can play and that they’re dedicated to the music, but what they create together just doesn’t amount to much. The content of Statement Of Purpose can be found on any other album from any band in the genre.
For those who still have their metal training wheels on, Too Late The Hero might help ease their way into more substantial work. Outside of that, Statement Of Purpose has nothing much to offer. The worst offender by far is the tedious vocals, whether screaming or singing, that lay flat over the music. This is fashion, music that’s more on an accessory than anything else. It goes with a scene, a wardrobe, even a way of speaking between the fans. I’m sure this music matters to somebody, but for me the mediocrity is too palpable to get past.
CRAVEONLINE RATING 5 OUT OF 10