Trap Them - Seizures in Barren Praise (Cover Artwork)

Trap Them

Seizures in Barren Praise (2008)


I used to work a desk job. I would stare at a computer all day and one of my daily highlights was to get a cup of coffee in the mid-morning and, when I was feeling special, a donut as well. Even though I drank coffee every day, every once in a while the coffee would hit me especially hard and I would get a major caffeine and sugar buzz going and just power through my work in mood and manner reminiscent of Rambo laying out fields of bad guys. Since quitting that job for the sunnier world of grad school I hadn't quite been hit with that feeling again until Trap Them's new album, Seizures in Barren Praise, showed up in my mailbox. Contained within its eerie Jake Bannon artwork are 25 minutes of perfectly executed, organically metallic hardcore that basically makes me want to kill people with a comically giant automatic weapon and a bandanna wrapped around my head.

Trap Them has always been a band with great tone. Vocalist Ryan McKenney's medium-low full screaming voice and guitarist Brian Izzi's thick heavier-than-Sabbath guitar sound immediately put them ahead of most of the pack in heavy music. Throw in Kurt Ballou on top to produce and they were sure to come out with a product as heavy and impressive as last year's Séance Prime 7". However, while all of their previous releases have been good, they had yet to totally win me over. The problem was that a band like this that shifts between grooving heavy riffage and occasionally grinding blast beats needs an awesome drummer, and while their past drummers have been competent, I always wondered, "What if?" Enter former Unearth and Red Chord drummer Michael Justian and problem solved. While I'm still punk at heart, I'm a sucker for great instrumental playing, especially in heavy music, and the end-product here is well-rounded and undeniable.

The record starts with an early highlight in opener "Day Nineteen: Fucking Viva," with a meandering evil guitar line and McKenney overtop destroying his vocal chords. The drums enter with a light half-time beat before the band hits full blast at 1:28 and stays that way for the rest of the song. An easy comparison for this band is Converge (check Brian's reviews of their other releases for proof). They cover a lot of the same ground and are equally as heavy, however keeping a more straightforward approach.

While making a list of best riffs of the year is not something I would ever do, the ending of "Day Twenty Nine: Reincarnation of Lost Lones" would top it if I were to lose all respect for myself and make such a list. The record also closes on a high note with the seven-minute-long dirge-riffing fiesta "Day Thirty One: Mission Convincers."

I know there's a lot of people out there that are not huge fans of heavy music, but like to pick up a good hardcore or metal release every once in a while. For those people needing something heavy to fill that void, I would recommend checking out this release. It's super heavy with great production, immediately accessible and still retains a strong punk vibe.