If there is a musical equivalent to the film genre New French Extremity, characterized by body horror and grotesque violence, it is the combination of extreme hardcore with the towering walls of buzzsaw guitars wrought by Trap Them. With their third full-length, Darker Handcraft, in 2011, the abject four-piece created an exquisitely horrific balance between relentless energy, blistering pace and monstrously well-crafted songs. Three years later, Blissfucker is the product of a rebuilt band featuring an entirely new rhythm section, with Brad Fickeisen on drums and Galen Baudhuin on bass, and is much weirder than its predecessor.
Kurt Ballou's muscular, weirdly bloody production (there are moments where the sound is disarmingly organic, the sounds of surgery rather than music), along with Ryan McKenney's unmistakably anguished bellows and Brian Izzi's torturously visceral riffing, keeps the record recognizable as Trap Them. The merciless pace of the last record is broken here, with interludes like "Bad Nones" forming thick, ropey waterfalls of sludgy reflection. There are unusual tempos and unhinged structures, such as on the shattering "Savage Climbers." It's "Ransom Risen," however, that is the album's secret, suppurating heart, with crawling riffs that suddenly burst into raw, vivid anger, the savage guitar work met beautifully by unpredictable roars and explosive drumming. It's one of the most exceptional songs to emerge so far this year; its only flaw is that the rest of the record dulls a little in comparison.
Blissfucker is not quite as perfectly crafted as Darker Handcraft, trading control for the broken and the strange, but though the results are less even, the finest work on the record still finds Trap Them at their very best. (Prosthetic Records)