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Darksynth Album Review: "Death Trap" by UltraKiller

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

UltraKiller’s Death Trap evokes feelings of terror and desperation and takes listeners into a disturbing journey into a homicidal slasher’s twisted mind. It is an auditory horror movie that heaves with dread and makes an unrelenting assault on the listener with aggressive, slashing guitars, battering drums and synths that drown in anxiety and fear. There are also spoken word parts that enhance the storytelling element of the album.

The influence of metal is undeniable on Death Trap. The raging tide of growling guitars and racing, battering drums add energy and menace to the album. There’s an impressive speed and intricacy to the solos and the sheer aggression of the guitars and drums evokes the murderous rage of the killer on his bloody rampage.

The twisting, writhing lines of high synth that frequently dot the album help ramp up the sensations of threat and stalking, lurking danger that pervade the tracks. The feeling of terror grows with each track as UltraKiller delve further into the shadowy recesses of the murderer’s twisted psyche.

I also enjoy the sound design on the album as a means to tell the story. There are points in the album with atmospheric sounds and noises that add to the sensations that the music creates. I’ll add the spoken word parts to this comment because the voice acting is well-done and as the tale unfolds, the music fleshes it out and interacts to produce a richer storytelling experience.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Night Hunt” comes into being with the soft rush of rain, undulating waves of synth with a sharp edge and rising, tension-filled chords. There’s a terrified sounding twist of high, chiming synth over the roiling, grating sounds that swirl underneath it as a steady, sawtoothed pulse synth moves and a door creaks open.

I'm including this track in my review because I feel that it starts to set up the atmosphere of the album well. It has an ominous quality that’s a harbinger of what’s about to happen in the tale of horror that’s about to unfold.

A hard hitting beat and throbbing synths that pulse in a synchronous pattern are joined by the churning howl of the electric guitar and wandering, glowing chimes to open “Destination Hell” over the firm, steady drums and throbbing bass. The guitars slice in knife-like bursts of rough sound while the intertwining pattern of arpeggiating synth adds a classic horror vibe to the music.

I enjoy this section where wild, shimmering synths arc and dance over the aggressive charge of the jagged-edged guitars and a pipe organ sound plays a Baroque pattern of notes. The mad rush of the guitars have a brittle harshness and the drums slam with ferocious intensity. Bright synth leaps in arcing cascades of sound as the guitars surge and pulsate.

“The Smell of Prey” kicks off with a headlong rush of throbbing drums and the driving power chords of the electric guitar over a flickering sonic backdrop. Shining, chiming synths carry a tight melodic pattern of notes over the twisting guitars and gigantic drums. The high synth sounds add a nerve-jangling feel to the music.

I like how the guitars spin out a mad rush of soaring and interlocking notes that rip over the relentlessly pounding beat and worried, elevated synth. The charging metal guitars and battering drum assault add energy to the track. It is filled with a frantic, hungry feeling as it unfolds.

Tight, medium-low synths climb upwards in rough-edged patterns to start “Fear” along with a a rush of air and arpeggiating patterns of synth. The oscillating, charging bass line is joined by quickly rushing drums with a full, thick feeling. The hard hitting synths feel barbed as they throb in time to the drums. A nasal, round synth carries a wandering melodic line over the energetic percussion.

The rising, lambent lead synth carries a rising melody over the urgent bass throb and the charge of the drums. Whirling, medium- high synth arpeggios dissolve into a moment of sweeping air before the aural assault of heavy guitars churning below tight, nervous arpeggios. I find the rushing power and growling rage of this track compelling as it batters into my ears.

“Blood Ritual” is born with the sound of dripping water and a dank, cavernous feeling before seething synths rise along with choral voices. The massive drums become increasingly intense before erupting into an auditory assault along with a wall of raging guitar. A rapid, medium high synth wriggles in agitation over the slamming beat as arpeggios that radiate fear spin through the music. The guitars snarl and lacerate while the rapid drums urge the track on at top speed.

There’s a break in which jagged guitar fills the music with gruff notes that rise and fall over the hard hitting drums. I especially enjoy the combination of darkly reverent choral voices and rising pipe organ that evokes the ritual alluded to in the title. The drums batter and the guitars thunder as the track accelerates again. The track closes with hard pulses of gritty guitar that burst more slowly over the powerful drums.

The dark roughness of the guitar is joined by slamming drums as a shadowy, sweeping synth flows into “Dismembered” over the shattering aggression below. The violent surge of the guitars and the relentless drums are joined by a medium-high, writhing synth pattern that repeats hypnotically. There’s pause as grating static pulses shift under the hypnotic synths. The bleak tide of snarling guitar attacks below an elevated line of synth that does a good job of creating apprehension.

The sawtoothed guitars swirl in the shadows as the drums smash hard into the music. There’s a shift to quickly pulsing synth with a grim feeling that underpins the smoother sounds that slip over the top of it. The feeling of impending doom continues to grow over the guitar’s tidal power. I also find the leaping, raised synths help to further add feelings of terror to the track.

“Violent Delights” leaps to life as arcing, intricate synth sounds soar over the unsparing guitars as they ram into the music in a raging torrent. The drums brim over with gigantic energy before an elevated synth cries out in a roaming, nervous pattern as the drums pound and higher arpeggios flicker and dance over the angry tide of hard-hitting guitar.

I enjoy the intricate, vaulting guitar solo in this track as it whirls out in a line of richly toned sound. It shreds and skims over the track, making wild leaps as the beat drives the track forward with those leaping patterns and slicing guitars that rock hard as the music speeds on.

The sound of a rain storm and lost, distant piano open “Dead Silence.” There’s a tenuous delicacy to the piano as it flows out over a deep well of bass. A rebounding line of jagged noise and a disturbed feeling line of medium high synth repeats over the shadowy tide of gritty sound below it.

A bell-like synth adds more of a terrified feeling while the slow piano notes barely skim the surface of the music. A bell tolls and soft rain falls while indistinct whispers shiver in the background. I am drawn to the imagery that is created in this track. A piano plays an interweaving melody with classical touches before the battering charge of sound resumes There’s one more lonely bell, rain sounds and then silence.

Conclusion

Death Trap is a ferocious, dark album that lays out the tale of a depraved killer in sound. I am a fan of the heavy horror film vibes on the album and I enjoy how UltraKiller have refused to pull their auditory punches here, creating a fitting sound for this chilling story.

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