Trapped Under Ice - “Heatwave”
Trapped Under Ice are a band that I hold very dear. I discovered them when I first began listening to hardcore when I was about 15 or 16 years old with their then-latest offering, 2011’s Big Kiss Goodnight. The loud and groovy instrumentation, heartfelt lyrics (that one wouldn’t typically expect from the “tough-guy” style of hardcore that they play), and Justice’s throat-shredding vocals all managed to draw my attention right from the get go. Their 2008 7”, Stay Cold, is also without a doubt one of the finest 7”’s in 21st century hardcore, bar none. “Skeleton Heads” still gets me going. When the band announced that they had reunited in 2015 after a hiatus to focus on other projects (namely the catchy Angel Du$t and a small-time band called Turnstile that never really went anywhere as far as I can recall), I was immediately excited at the prospect of new music from the band. Two years later and six years after their last offering, Trapped Under Ice have returned with a brand new full length, Heatwave.
The band cuts straight to the chase with “Backstabbed,” and most of the classic TUI repertoire of fast riffs and angry vocals is here, leading into “XL.” The first things anyone will notice with this track is that there appears to be an Angel Du$t influence on Justice’s sung vocals at the beginning of the track, and the more punky instrumentation of AD and Turnstile. This sets it apart from the band’s earlier catalogue and has proven to be a point of controversy amongst fans of the band: a lot of the album sounds more like the aforementioned bands than TUI. On a personal level, this isn’t a huge deal - I love both AD and Turnstile, and frankly, it’s rather silly to expect a group of five individuals who have all grown as musicians and people to take a six year break from a band and pick up right where they left off without any changes. That being said, it is a little disappointing that there aren’t as many mosh-worthy riffs as on the band’s previous outings.
That doesn’t mean that the album doesn’t have its bangers, though. “No Relief,” “Oblivion”, and “Move” would fit right in on Stay Cold. These are ultimately the high points of the record, with groovy stop-start riffs that will send dance floors across the country into a frenzy. Lots of hand-clap, windmill, etc. fun to be seen and heard here. Unfortunately, these songs are over almost as quickly as they began, and the same can be said for the record, really, since it only lasts 14 minutes over 11 tracks. Compare that to Big Kiss Goodnight, which had a runtime of approximately 33 minutes over 13 tracks, or twelve if you don’t count the remake of “Reality Unfolds.” It just feels a bit underwhelming.
The production is also nothing special either, with typically stellar producer Will Yip (Citizen, Turnover) at the helm. I’ve made a lot of comparisons to Angel Du$t so far, and I feel this is the area where most of the comparisons can be drawn. While the riffs are definitely written for a Trapped Under Ice record, the production sounds like it was done for an Angel Du$t record. The guitars don’t cut through the mix as they should, and Justice’s vocals don’t sound as powerful as they used to.
With all that being said, however, Heatwave is a very fun, albeit short, 14 minutes of no-bullshit hardcore. It’s not like their previous material, but if one can look past that, they’ll find a good record that manages to deliver the goods without overstaying its welcome.
FFO: Angel Du$t, Turnstile, Expire.