Sound — 8
These days heavy music pays no attention to genre boundaries. The underground is ripe with acts giving the middle finger to old-school convention and embracing the no-holds-barred spirit that made heavy-metal and punk so exhilarating in their salad days. New Hampshire's Trap Them incorporate elements of early Swedish death-metal (circa 1991), crusty punk (think Discharge and His Hero Is Gone), and hardcore into a sound that while abrasive, still manages to bleed out a sense of infectiousness in a lot of moments. The discordant yet rhythmic feedback squeal that opens the album is a great precursor to what lies ahead. The songs on Seizures In Barren Praise are cold, nasty, and chaotic but they follow enough classic song structure that you can't help but get pulled in. On Targets the group takes the listener through an extreme music sonic history map of the last fifteen years. In the span of 2:17 minutes, they manage to cram in punk, hardcore, death-metal, grindcore, sludgecore, and Neurosis-like destruction and somehow make it cohesive. Lesser bands would have been crushed by such an arduous task but Trap Them revel in it.
Lyrics — 8
Ryan McKenney has the kind of barbed-wire caressed voice box that was made for music this viscous. His obvious influence is L.G. Petrov of the aforementioned Entombed and like the Swede; McKenney is in full control throughout the album. This is a frontman who knows exactly which cadences and vocal patterns work best at any given moment. He's definitely studied the greats and his confidence shines through all over this stuff. Lyrically, the album deals with Barren Praise" a fictional ghost town and the people who live in it. The town is a metaphor and really a microcosm for the world we live in. It's easy to feel the hopelessness in songs like Invertopia/Class Warmth with it's bleak imagery and direct delivery. The rich wordplay and originality here is thrilling despite the grave place it comes from. McKenney is a writer to keep an eye on for years to come.
Overall Impression — 8
The always dependable engineering skills of Kurt Ballou don't disappoint here. His refreshingly raw production touch and Trap Them's unbridled energy is a perfect union. Ballou plays guitar in Converge and if you listen to the band's dizzying output you already know he knows his way around this sort of thing. Trap Them couldn't have been in better hands at this point in the career. The Chainsaw guitar tone that bands like Entombed (they pop up a lot in this band's work), Dismember, and Carnage pioneered in the early 90's is used here in all it's glory. The buzzing sound makes tracks like Flesh and Below and F*cking Viva all the more lethal in their delivery. With a lot of Trap Them's peers opting for cleaner, compressed guitar tones, this cruder approach is welcomed here. Brian Izzi flexes his fretboard skills through the entire tracklisting but he never overdoes it on the technical side of things rather letting nuances like amplifier feedback adorn sections like another guitar part would. Former Unearth drummer Mike Justian also hands in a smart performance lending the punkier tempos enough looseness to make them believable while locking in with bassist Steve Lacour on the more death-metal flavored sections. All in all, Seizures In Barren Praise is the sound of a band firing on all cylinders.