TRAUMA – AS THE WORLD DIES
San Francisco Thrashers “Trauma”, despite being known primarily as the band Cliff Burton was in before he joined Metallica, are well renowned and highly regarded in their own right. Their latest album, “As The World Dies”, their third album in total and second since reforming in 2011, seeks to add a modern twist to their established sound.
You’d be forgiven for expecting a Metallica rip-off, but opening track “The Rage”, and the album as a whole, goes to show that Trauma are much more than that. Of course, they are a thrash band, so the expected tropes are there: Snarling, melodic vocals sang over fast, riff-heavy guitar playing coupled with just as fast drumming. “The Rage” features a hooky chorus, a couple of great riffs and really tight drumming. Very strong opener.
Donny Hillier’s lead vocals are a particular highlight of the album. Specifically on the opening three songs. His voice is unusual. Somewhere between Ozzy Osbourne and Andrew Stockdale from Wolfmother. The echo effect on “The Rage” gives his voice so much added atmosphere and gravitas. The harmonies in “From Here to Hell” are glorious. Titular track “As the World Dies” is a doomy, sabbathy song that gives his unique voice space to shine.
As the album starts to reach its midway point, we get “Gun to your Head” a fast, manic, almost punky track that helps to lift and maintain the album’s energy. Nice speedy riffs throughout. The track ends with a gunshot sound effect that doesn’t really work. It’s a small detail but it really cheapened the conclusion of the song. Following this we get “Last Rites” a slower, ballad style song. It’s an ok song. It’s a bit forgettable and unfortunately it brings down the energy of the album that the previous song did so well to build.
There’s a couple of songs on the album that feature a quiet, acoustic intro, only to be taken over by distorted guitars and heavy drums, becoming just another metal song. “Run for Cover” and “Entropy” are examples of this. They’re both decent songs. But I’d like to see their more downbeat, raw sounding intro’s play more of a part in the song. Otherwise it feels like they’re just tacked onto the start of the song for the sake of it.
Despite a “modern twist” (this really just means improved production quality), “As the World Dies” is very much an 80’s sounding record with little in the way off experimentation or deviation from the norm. There’s a couple of rhythmic challenges peppered here and there, and the demonic sounding vocal effects on “Cool Aid” are pretty, well, cool. Sure, it’s a little more commercial than 1984’s powerful “Scratch and Scream” album, but there’s little sign of Trauma ‘selling out’ anytime soon.
For me the album loses its luster a little in the second half. The opening half is very strong but after the halfway point there’s no real standout tracks. There’s no real bad songs per se, but it struggles to find the strength and energy that it seemed to have in spades at the beginning. Overall “As the World Dies” is well worth a listen, fans of Trauma’s previous work will definitely enjoy it and there’s every chance it could win over some new fans too.
1. The Rage.
2. From here To Hell
3. As The World Dies
4. Gun To Your Head.
5. Last Rites
6. Run For Cover
9. Cool Aid
Review by Josh Farrell