Witchtrap - Trap the WitchLook at that album title. Look at that art. Now that is a gimmick! Forgive my exuberance, but after only just overcoming the trauma-induced tinnitus from my previous attempts at thrash, Witchtrap prove that good things come to those who scour the promo sheet with a fine-toothed comb. Any band billing themselves as “Endless Pain-meets-Evil Invaders” automatically goes on my to-do list, but prior offerings left me pining for their spiritual forebears instead. Fortunately, Witchtrap’s fourth album Trap the Witch shakes up a career of unimpressive mimicry with a zero-shits-given attitude and enough charisma to get elected President of your wife’s pants.

If nothing else, twenty years with Colombian metal acts like Erzebet and Nightmare have taught the trio that modern throwback thrash isn’t as much about cutting a classic-sounding riff as cutting a classic shit-eating grin. “Lemmy” flashes all twenty-nine of its pearly whites, goofing around on the amp before making good on that 1980’s time machine promise. Strapped to a missile with a pin-up of Dave Carlo1 painted on the side, the Razor-thin lightning that permeates the opener always seems on the verge of stumbling over its own shoelaces. Frontman Burning Axe Ripper2 emits an hard-edged electricity with his early Mille Petrozza (Kreator) snarl and a vicious riff set that invites you to tremolo alongside him. By the time Señor Ripper sneers “49% motherfucker, 51% son of a bitch” with all the attitude befitting the true Kilmister, I’m shredding a private show for the nice government fellows spying on my webcam. Trap the Witch parlays this rock n’ roll panache into an album chock full of the most air-guitarable riffs you can imagine, happy to get you grinning and moshing rather than counting time signatures.

Unsurprisingly Trap the Witch does not bring anything new to the table, barely holding it together through all the snap riff changes, thrash beats and tormented shrieks in the throwback playbook. This lack of innovation could have signaled more uninspiring imitation thrash, but like Deathhammer before them, Witchtrap sell themselves so damn well that Trap the Witch succeeds without a speck of innovation. Though largely content to play themselves out of their shoes, Witchtrap deviate into more experimentation than in years past, slanting “Power of the Maul” into a second-era Slayer slog. However, strong whiffs of “Dead Skin Mask” and Ripper’s cruel near-growls cannot save the unsurprising dearth of technical depth needed to pull the song off. “Hard Thrashing Mania” also finds itself out-of-place. The red-headed stepchild of the “thrash” naming convention adequately breaks up the non-stop shred with its heavy metal chord progression and sauntering gait but lacks the necessary catchiness to stick. Neither are dreadful but are the easiest to skip on a record devoid of a true clunker.

Witchtrap 2016

It should go without saying, but Burning Axe Ripper steals the show. Our intrepid hero successfully avoids the amateur sloppiness inherent to the genre, blazing through standouts “Disciple of Death” and “Don’t Lift the Curse” at Whiplash-inducing speeds. His improved vocal quality increases the charm of the record drastically, twisting “The Subtle Touch of Fire” into knots with his contorted snarls and hooky inflections. Much of this can be attributed to the sound engineer, who Witchtrap owe a beer or eight. 2012’s Vengeance Is My Name marked the first time the band avoided a completely flat mix but left both guitar and vocals under-treated. Trap the Witch’s superlative DR9 instead puts the spotlight on Burning Axe Ripper’s dual performance and elevates the album leaps and bounds. Without this development, Trap the Witch likely loses the newt’s eye from its memorable witch’s snare. Who would have thought that production mattered so much in thrash metal?3

Trap the Witch is the grimy, gap-toothed boy who tracks mud all over the house but somehow charms his way out of punishment. With a boatload of charisma to help you overlook their reasonable deficiencies, Witchtrap conjure a really fun album from a well-worn formula. With Hells Headbangers plucking the LP out of Colombia for international release, Trap the Witch is already the band’s biggest success. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the Witchtrapper Generals can wring some more magic out of their next captive.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Hells Headbangers
Websites: witchtrap.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/WITCHTRAP666
Releases Worldwide: November 11th, 2016


Show 3 footnotes

  1. That you know and felt fit to mention Dave Carlo brings tears to my ancient eyes ov Steel.Steel Druhm
  2. With a gimmick like this, of course, that’s his name.
  3.  Certainly not Metallica.
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  • Oh my Razor!

  • AlphaBetaFoxface
  • Westpaceagle

    Gotta love the creativity of the album title. No Inquisition style 12 word nonsense. I mean, what do you do with a Witchtrap? You Trap the Witch, dummy! What is a snake pit? a pit of snakes…
    But woa, but that kind of just looks like a bear trap. I guess its all about the bait. No witch can resist a skull with a pentagram carved in it!

  • basenjibrian

    I know we celebrate the unicorn, but we really need to recognize the other key trope of old-skool metal…..THE SKULLET. That is one EPIC skullet!

    • Nag Dammit

      He has gone almost full SYL-era Devin Townsend with that do.

      • The Unicorn

        Heavy Devy incarnate.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Hey Unicorn! We need you over at that Cognition review!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Because going bald is no reason to cut one’s hair!

    • And an epic grin to go with it. When I start going bald I’ll try to wear one like that 24-7.

  • ricin_beans

    It’s actually good that they titled their album that because I actually did read that as “Witch Rap” at first

  • Wilhelm

    good fun retro thrash never hurt anyone

    • Westpaceagle

      well, except that witch

  • Antorus

    that witch is pretty trapped

    • sir_c

      she’s been feeding candy to the wrong boy

  • sir_c

    49% snarls, 51% riffs. What else does one need?

  • Treble Yell

    Ooooh, I need to buy this. Very fun review, Doc.

  • Mark Z

    ‘Sloppy thrash metal’ should become a new subgenre. Led by Deathhammer, Vornth, and Witchtrap.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      There was a time called “back then” when all Thrash Metal was sloppy.

  • Norfair Legend

    Why? This is so good. I have no idea what it is, I mean I do but why is it so catchy? Think I’m gonna grab this on vinyl.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      I think it’s the vocals. They have this weird memorability about them. “DEE-sciples! Of Death!”

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra


  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    How do I get to upvote footnote number 1?

  • Dead1

    It’s fun but the singer reminds me too much of Mille Petrozza in which case I’d rather just crank classic Kreator.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      If Mille Petrozza were to hear this he’s likely to wonder when the hell did he record it.

  • Mr T

    It’s a fun listen. Would be awesome 30 years ago.

    • Mr T

      It has been on youtube since sep 2015 so make that 29 years ago.

  • strychnin

    I’m surprised there is no early Annihiliator (say Alice in Hell) reference :)