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Rapture And Wrath

Pure Steel (2015)
Rating: 7.5/10

Trauma is a San Francisco-based metal band that formed back in 1981, and they do indeed have a credible history; namely the fact that they appeared on the second instalment of Metal Blade Records’ famous Metal Massacre compilation (1982) and also featured legendary bassist Cliff Burton, who of course went on to join some band called Metallica.

The Californian posse released a half-decent debut entitled Scratch And Scream in 1984 but that was all she wrote as they say, with Trauma biting the dust a year later. It seems only right then that like goodness how many other bands that Trauma should re-emerge from the wasteland and give it another go. And why not?

Rapture And Wrath features original vocalist Donny Hillier who, along with long-standing drummer Kris Gustofson, has dragged the band back from the darkness. Trauma has enlisted two new members in the forms of guitarist Kurt Fry and bassist Steve Robello, the latter most known for his work with thrashers Dublin Death Patrol. One is hoping this line-up remains stable because just one look at the band’s early history sees a number of formation alterations, but anyway, this new record offers up ten tunes all delivered with a style to suggest that the cobwebs haven’t clogged up the vocal pipes or the recording studio.

Admittedly, Hillier does occasionally struggle to reach some of the notes throughout – most notably on ‘When I Die’ – but he has such a nifty and convincing whine that one can almost forgive him as he warbles his way through some absolute corkers which blend power metal drama and early 80s speed metal crustiness.

It would seem that Trauma’s revival has come at exactly the right time, with tracks such as ‘Heart Of Stone’, the aforementioned ‘When I Die’, ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ all being fine examples of traditional metal featuring anthemic choruses, marching drums and steely guitar. In fact, this is as about as pure as heavy metal can get benefited by a crisp production.

The band shows its experience with the slow-building ‘Kingdom Come’ with its fizzing guitar and eventual dramatic surges of power. The same can also be said for the fantastic ‘Egypt’, introduced via a killer hook and Gustofson’s steady nod. The track actually feels live, such is its rawness. I would have liked to have heard more control in the vocal again though, or at least some tweaking because they do tend to waver, but as solid, no holds barred heavy metal goes Trauma’s return is one I welcome with open arms because just one whiff of the pounding ‘Pain’ or the sizzling ‘Under The Lights’ suggests a band which has unfinished business. If Rapture And Wrath is anything to go by, then business is most certainly good.

Neil Arnold

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