For the first three songs, I was paralyzed by uncertainty. The CD sleeve said Trap Them on it, but the title didn’t start with an S. Séance Prime. Seizures in Barren Praise. Sleepwell Deconstructor.... Darker Handcraft? Whaaaaaaaaa?
But then the trilling stairstep riff of “Evictionaries” seized (an S word!) my full attention and I didn’t care what Rhode Island’s ragers called their latest slab of crusty grindy punky. It’s like Discharge and Entombed splitting a mess of Motorhead’s sketchiest bathtub meth and I was content to just run around slavering and red eyed, grinding my teeth in an incoherent attempt to communicate with the world.
Like Converge with a d-beat fetish, the riffs skitter and slither around the album like the chestburster that got loose in the lab in Alien. While the production on Seizures in Barren Praise was steel wool fuzzy, Darker Handcraft boasts a much crisper tone while still being bass-heavy and abrasive. It sounds like a rusty bandsaw’s rumble caught in glorious Dolby fidelity.
Musically, Darker Handcraft is a logical outgrowth of everything Trap Them has shown us before. “Manic in the Grips” and “Sovereign Through the Pines” both blast and grumble like motherfuckers. Trap Them also put to lie the Misfits’ “Where Eagles Dare” on "The Facts" while Ryan McKinney declares “I am a goddamned son of a bitch.” “Drag the Wounds Eternal” is a strident, deliberately paced bit of beautifully scintillant guitar coruscation that sparkles like twinkling pinpoints in the sky. It’s a moment of transcendent beauty that was wholly unexpected and perfectly placed.
While Darker Handcraft is not a huge departure from the band’s prior output, Trap Them have proven again they are a quietly efficient masters of the modern hardcore ode. Old elements are made new again through spit and ferocity.