Trapped Under Ice - Stay Cold [7 inch] (Cover Artwork)

Trapped Under Ice

Stay Cold [7 inch] (2008)


Being a fan of the greatest dramatic television show of all time, "The Wire," anything coming out of Baltimore, MD is going to pique my interest. Couple that with Pulling Teeth leading the charge for the suddenly insanely strong Baltimore hardcore scene and it's no surprise that Trapped Under Ice has gained a huge amount of recognition in the past year flying clearly under the flag of their home city. While this "cool by association" of their city vibe could theoretically be a bad thing, it simply doesn't matter because with Stay Cold, Trapped Under Ice proves they are an emotional and well-rounded hardcore band that would make waves no matter where they hailed from.

Following up their promising 7" demo, Stay Cold finds the band refining their NYHC base to a fresher and more polished sound. Gone are the clear musical allusions to Biohazard and in its place are cleaner and tighter tracks that let the guitar work shine and showcase the interesting street-conscious lyrical content. While mentions of these aspects will no doubt turn-off ‘Org readers that belittle most hardcore as tough-guy-meathead-violence-garbage, Trapped Under Ice shows that succinct heavy music with urban themes can actually be intelligent and musically satisfying.

The standout aspects of this band are definitely the guitar work and the vocals, both individually and in the interplay between them. Whoever writes the guitar parts in this band is a riff machine and I enjoy that fact that all the parts have more than just solid hardcore groove but are also pleasingly melodic. Over-top that, the vocals are well-paced and the vocalist has a very individual sound to his attack, sometimes pronouncing words in strange ways that is likely a symptom of his heartfelt delivery. What might be his secret weapon, however, is that he knows exactly his place in the music. He knows not to shout over the best riffs and works his words into the right spots between the guitar accents. For an example of this, check out the vocal and guitar interaction on side two opener "Street Lights," and on the last track, "Between the Sheets," where a minute and a half of solid riffing goes by before the vocals come in for just the last 20 seconds. In the over-the-top world of hardcore, restraint can be a powerful tool.

As much as I like the "Between the Sheets", I do find it to be a strange closer for this EP. While most of the moments on this recording have a clear purpose, the sudden ending here is confusing. I think "Skeleton Heads" with its "Nishinga, motherfucker" break would have made for a better closer, but that complaint is nitpicky at best. All sequencing issues aside, this is a solid release and will likely be a contender for best EP of the year on my list and likely many other people's as well.