Soaring from strength to strength, San Fran metal legends observe the sad state of affairs and let it rip.
There’s something fascinating about ensembles whose initial lifespan was short yet revival is bountiful. Hung in limbo between 1985 and 2011, this quintet turned into a supergroup now, as co-founder Donny Hillier and old drummer Kris Gustofson called on stellar colleagues from TESTAMENT, DANZIG and DUBLIN DEATH PATROL to deliver a second post-comeback – and pre-apocalyptic – album that takes the theme of their classic “The Day All Hell Broke Loose” further down the line and creates a new sort of bleakness. The monochrome image on the record’s cover doesn’t reflect the full-blooded assault of “From Here To Hell” and other fresh cuts which often thrive on lyrical conflict and dynamic contrast when delicate strum and cinematic solos make way for hefty riffs.
Set in motion with the delirious drift of “The Rage” where viscous weave of Joe Fraulob and Steve Robello’s strings unravels to reveal the piece’s frenetic framework, supported and punctured with Greg Christian’s bass, the songs cycle is still indebted to NWOBHM, but the band’s sonic patterns feel modern – or timeless. Hillier’s ability to hit high notes showing no wear ‘n’ tear on the likes of “Entropy” – the ensemble’s embrace of balladry – there’s emotional tension applied to these tracks, as the interplay on “Asylum” reaches for the listener’s jugular and the titular number shifts from folk influence to anthemic attack and military march.
Infectious as plague, refrains such as the chorus of “Cool Aid” which has crunchy, if to the point, analysis of current affairs in its heavy heart, are what make this record so memorable. The world may be dying, then, yet TRAUMA provide a perfect accompaniment to the global funeral.