As all musical booms within a scene or style tend to do, the “ENTOMBED-core” eruption that was so horribly luscious at the turn of the decade has somewhat burnt itself out with a sea of faceless imitators with access to a HM-2 pedal continuing to make lots of noise but one that adds little to the conversation. Many of the progenitors however, simply because they were better than the others in the first place, remain strong. While fellow giants of this Swedeath-loving hardcore BLACK BREATH moved closer to Ride the Lightning than crust punk on their last record, TRAP THEM have stuck to their guns in a manner that continues to put others to shame. Crown Feral is their fifth full-length in just under a decade as the band continue to reliably churn out music to chew off people’s faces to, and sees them on impeccable form.
2014’s Blissfucker, glorious title aside, was for some as close to a misstep as the band have come, still a tyrannical beast of a record at its best but full of grim, sludgy material that while filthy perhaps sometimes did not capitalise on the tension it built. Crown Feral does an incredible job of moving forward in a way that both builds upon what Blissfucker got right and fully restores their bloodthirsty vitality. Their trademark sound never went away, but sonically it feels more natural and less compressed here in a positive move. It’s by and large a pacier record than its predecessor, despite the brooding intro track Kindred Dirt initially suggesting otherwise. Tearing through Hellionaires though in its wake is TRAP THEM at their absolute peak. A blistering yet catchy wrecking ball of a song, with its initial lunge after an expertly crafted build and an unholy end section two of the most wall-punch worthy moments of the year, it’s frankly the best thing they’ve ever written.
More highlights don’t waste time in raising their scum-caked heads, the 4/4 stomp of Malengines Here, Where They Should Be and the snaking Revival Spines putting TRAP THEM‘s sheer quality of songwriting compared to many of their peers front and centre from the get-go. Brad Fickeisen puts on a stellar performance behind the kit, driving and dictating the seamless flow of each song through their various tempo changes and throwing in little tricks like the double bass stabs on Luster Pendulums that gives the violence some spice. Elsewhere little flourishes on the guitar provide constant hooks, and Ryan McKenney remains suitably incensed. It breezes by in just over half an hour as records of this type should, but within that half an hour it subtly condenses and refines everything within the TRAP THEM canon and sticks totally true to their philosophy in doing so.
TRAP THEM are entering a stage of their career where their mark and legacy has been established and each album is expected to maintain that. Crown Feral does this and more. Darker Handcraft is cemented as their finest hour for many and will likely remain that, but Crown Feral has a serious claim to be TRAP THEM’s most refined and cohesive album yet.
Crown Feral is set for release on September 23rd via Prosthetic Records.
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