At the beginning of their European tour, Trap Them faced a big problem when frontman Ryan McKenney jumped from a stack of speakers and broke his two legs. The band could have canceled the tour then and now in the face of such mischief but McKenney took ownership of his mistake and soldiered on, continuing the tour in a wheelchair. Traveling Europe in a wheelchair is probably the least desirable holiday you could imagine but having to perform every night adds another layer of craziness, especially when you have to do it in venues that are probably not all appropriate to accommodate a man in such a condition. Nonetheless, Trap Them was in town this night and performed splendidly.
Before them stood some great band and a questionable one. Employed to Serve and Venom Prison both performed splendidly. The former played one of their best show in front of the most static crowd I have ever seen them played to. Every musician played as tight as humanly possible while frontwoman Justine Jones and guitarist Sammy Urwin stepped into the crowd to get some sort of excitement going. Instead, the audience listened calmly but they probably made a lot of new fans because of their commitment. The later was comparably less intense but the barrage of Floridian Death metal played with the energy of a New York Hardcore band mastered by the Brits must also have convinced the audience. Both these young bands are constantly improving as musician and performers and are ready to take over the world so don’t pass an on any occasion to see them live.
Okkultokratii play a mix of Norwegian Black Metal and Post-punk which might sound good on paper, or on screen, but falls flat on stage. Falling flat might also be an understatement. From the opening riff to the last clumsy D-beat, Okkultokratii slides all the way to the door and fell down towards Camden, catching up easily with the Northern line. This was not bad because bad can be entertaining and some parts were alright. This was just mediocre. After opening for Converge, I have to wonder why anyone would want to watch something this band when there is so much better out there.
It was a relief to finally see Trap Them take the stage, but not only because of Okkultokratii‘s performance and Ryan McKenney‘s physical condition but because their previous album had left the impression the band was losing their way. After inspiring a generation of Hardcore musicians to check out what Swedish Death Metal sounds like, Bliss fucker was the sound of a band who had forgotten how to write good songs. Thankfully, from the first song released from Crown feral, it was obvious Trap Them was back in full force… which made it slightly frustrating to see their frontman on a wheelchair. Ironically, I had always found McKenney to be a bit too active on stage which made him loose his breath to perform his full vocal lines as recorded. However, it was obvious that he would not appreciate the irony as the pain of performing made performing extremely hard. Nonetheless, he proved, alongside his bandmate, that you can’t take a good man, or a good band, down. Keeping his hands on the microphone stand, McKenney led his band into a selection of songs from Crown feral, Hellionaires, Twitching in the auras, Malengines here, Where they should be, alongside classics from Darkest handcraft, Damage prose and their « hit single », The facts and it’s perfect shout along line, « I am the motherfucking son of a bitch ». The sound as well as well as the performance was excellent despite the lack of stage presence brought down by the ailed frontman. Trap Them will undoubtedly return in better shape and play in a larger room. With such a fantastic album under their belt, it would criminal to see this band remained as a cult classic.