After growing accustomed to Trap Them’s style of crusty and pulverizing d-beat, the last thing anyone would expect from them is a relatively straightforward record. That is exactly what this nomadic quartet have delivered in Blissfucker.

While I’m still not sure if this record fits into the Barren Praise storyline, due to there being no titles telling us which day each song represents,  but it honestly doesn’t matter one way or another. This record stands alone and is single-minded in its goal to beat the listener into submission. Producer Kurt Ballou knows how to wrestle the most dense sounds out of guitarist Brian Izzi, and the new rhythm section of bassist Galen Baudhuin and former Red Chord skinsman Brad Fickeisen are in the pocket from the word “Go.” Fickeisen’s blasting, though sporadic, feels more on time than former drummer Chris Maggio could muster. Of course, supplying the drill sergeant rasps over this din is Ryan McKenney, one of the most animated performers this reviewer has ever seen. Seriously … dude went so apeshit he started bleeding from three different places. If that ain’t metal, I don’t know what is.

What gets me is just how much melody Blissfucker contains. Don’t expect McKenney to start busting out in operatic yowls or Izzi to write perfect, concise, easily digestible pop fluff. Just listen to “Gift and Gift Unsteady” or the (dare I say it) Cancer Bats style swing of “Sanitations,” and you might just wonder if someone decided to slap the Trap Them name and logo on an altogether different band’s output.

Just when you think you know their formula, Trap Them go the complete opposite direction and allow the melodies out to play instead of burying them underneath copious amounts of snare drum and cymbals. Then, after you get used to that, they’ll dirge it up and slow things down to a funeral march (“Bad Nones”).

Trap Them have done an awesome job of combining both the new and the familiar, and Blissfucker is undoubtedly their best record yet.

Blissfucker is out now on Prosthetic Records.

Rating: 5/5 Stars