Bay Area metal band Trauma's history dates back better than 30 years, with some notable highlights. They had one song on 1982's Metal Massacre II from Metal Blade Records. Also, future Metallica bass player Cliff Burton had a short stay in the band, performing on their first demo. Trauma had one album back in the day, 1984's Scratch and Scream. In 2013, at the behest of Shrapnel Records, the band was resurrected to support the reissue of the album.
It appears this new life appealed to the band and they conjured up some new songs for a new album. Rapture and Wrath is being released by Germany's Pure Steel Records (which makes me wonder if Shrapnel had no further use for the band).
As much as my personal history and love for American heavy metal dates back to those days (and even farther), I found Trauma in 2015 to sound as old as that past. And not so much in a good way. The first thing I noticed, when listening, was how much I couldn't understand vocalist Donny Hillier. Even with his sometimes high pitched voice, he sounds muted and subdued. He reminded me of Bloodgood vocalist Les Carlsen with rag stuffed in his mouth.
The next thing that struck me was sharpness of Kurt Fry's riffs and leads. He has a singular style that casts a pervasive influence over the entire album's sound. This is made even more significant by the production. Whoever was behind the knobs seems to have had a particular interest bringing Fry forward. (But also Hillier, yet without enhancing the clarity.) Don't get me wrong. Fry has the chops and quite the fiery leads, only be prepared for their repetitive razor-like buzz throughout this album.
After these things, Trauma gives you some basic old school heavy metal, certainly with harmony and melody, but also some speed. Played 30 years ago, songs like Heart Of Stone or When I Die might have been considered precursors to the developing power metal movement. A few times the speed is settled, dropped back, as with Don't Tread On Me or The Long Way Home. Trauma is probably best at their craft when a composition offers elements of both heavy and power metal. Pain accomplishes this, with some lyrical and vocal arrangement intrigue. It's likely the best song here.
Nevertheless, and while it's good to see a classic American heavy metal band resurface, in the end, I still wasn't all that satisfied with Rapture and Wrath. Maybe the next album, if there is one, will have a different and better effect on me. Otherwise, check out Trauma for yourself. You may feel differently about Rapture and Wrath.
While it's good to see a classic American heavy metal band resurface, in the end, I still wasn't all that satisfied with Rapture and Wrath. Maybe the next album, if there is one, will have a different and better effect on me. Otherwise, check out Trauma for yourself.
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