Trap Them: Sleepwell Deconstructor

TRAP THEM [Photo: Rev Aaron]

Can't wait for the new Pig Destroyer album? This one will tide you over nicely.

Trap Them

Sleepwell Deconstructor

Label: Trash Art
US Release Date: 2007-04-03
UK Release Date: Available as import

We writers, especially those of us who like to prattle on about the latest metal album to blow our minds, love to categorize music. Since the beginning of the 1990s, metal's number of subgenres has been increasing exponentially; as soon as a new branch appears on the family tree, another couple new twigs start sprouting. In the end, all the pigeonholing doesn't really matter if the music is great, but still, part of the fun of listening to extreme music is attaining a firm grasp of the myriad musical styles that are crowded under the by now far-too-general umbrella term "metal". To be able to tell the difference between such sounds as blackened death metal and blackened thrash metal, or sludge doom and funeral doom, is not unlike a jazz aficionado boasting his knowledge of Ornette Coleman's harmolodics or deconstructing the atonal free jazz of Cecil Taylor, the kind of jargon that enhances the insular appeal of the metal subculture. That said, it's even better when a band comes along with an album that completely defies categorization. In recent years, both Mastodon and Pig Destroyer have done it, and now, an obscure band from New Hampshire calling itself Trap Them has as well.

Comprised of current and former members of black metal band December Wolves, hardcore outfit Backstabbers, Inc., grindcore band Transistor Transistor, and sludge doom greats Grief, the enigmatically titled Sleepwell Deconstructor is every bit as diverse as the sounds of the aforementioned acts. At the root of Trap Them's sound is a very strong grindcore influence, but the deeper one digs, the richer the music becomes. We hear the seminal grind of Nasum, the authoritative hardcore of Converge, the irresistible "death 'n' roll" groove of Swedish greats Entombed, the monolithic crust/sludge of underrated Canadian stalwarts Cursed, all delivered with the melting-pot ferocity of Pig Destroyer. In fact, this album packs more into its 21-minute running time than many of the band's peers are capable of in an hour, and recorded and mixed by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, he of the most thrilling guitar tone in extreme music today, it boasts a sound that is as varied as it is visceral.

"Put on your mask / Put on your gloves / We're heading out / We're going down," hollers vocalist Ryan John McKenney over the ferocious grind maelstrom of opening cut "Insomniawesome", delivering a rallying cry for the disillusioned, disenfranchised, and just plain pissed-off. The crust-infused "They Followed the Scent of Jihad All the Way to Thieves Paradise" downshifts from thrashy speed to a wickedly seething breakdown, McKenney's protestations becoming positively frightening: "I'm starting with one / I'm ending with all / There won't be flags flying or sirens wailing / Distress calls or towers falling / Jus the sound of shovels digging." The 90 second "Garlic Breakfast" is one of the record's highlights from a guitar standpoint, as Brian Izzi unleashes hammer-ons and pull-offs and wonky squeals reminiscent of early Mastodon as drummer Scott DeFusco churns out some relentless grind beats. The charging groove of "Digital Dogs" is the kind of tune that would make a crowded venue erupt in fits of pit violence, while Ballou lends a helping hand on "Fucked as Punk" and the massive, lurching "Threatnurse", providing his trademark guitar work.

On such an uncompromising, confrontational album, it's always a good idea to have one centerpiece track, to both serve as a respite from the repetitive speed, yet at the same time trounce the other songs by its sheer muscle. Pig Destroyer did it three years ago with "Towering Flesh", Converge's "Grim Heart / Black Rose" was a revelation on 2006's No Heroes, and "Deconstructioneer Extraordinaire" has Trap Them pulling the exact same stunt off brilliantly. A couple seconds shy of five minutes, it's an epic track by this band's standards, as the foursome goes for a more pensive mood, Izzi's clean, mellifluous arpeggios reminiscent of Slayer, punctuated by refrains of thick sludge chords. McKenney, meanwhile, is as vehement and bile-spewing as ever, delivering an impassioned manifesto, vowing at one point, "I'll submit to no one / I'll be no one's cause." Sleepwell Deconstructor was already a strong album, but such a subtle detour elevates the album to an extraordinary level, and by the time the CD is over, we're left craving more (and more shall we have, as a new EP will be recorded over the summer). Call it what you will, crust-grind-death 'n' roll-sludge, but a far more appropriate term would be, "One of the year's best." That's a category any band wouldn't mind being lumped into.


In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.