80s Bay Area Thrash Metal is making a sonic-speed comeback in to the 21st Century with one of the lesser spoken about pioneers at its helm. TRAUMA emerged in the first wave of the scene back in 1981; a scene most notable for producing the likes of Exodus, Testament and Metallica. An important year for metal, the band drew on inspiration from icons Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden combined with the electrified energy of thrash metal.
TRAUMA released their first album “Scratch and Scream” in 1984 however the band were not to survive the era and dropped off the map for 30 years. Each member went on to do their own thing however it was the reissue of “Scratch and Scream” in 2013 that kick-started the TRAUMA machine once more. Original vocalist Donny Hillier and drummer Kris Gustofson formed a new lineup and the band would go on to release a further two albums (“Rapture and Wrath” – 2015 and “As The World Dies” – 2018).
Fast-forward to 2022 and they are back with brand new album “Awakening” which is their heaviest material to date. Brian Allen has taken up vocal duties after Donny Hillier sadly passed away in 2020 but the band have no intentions of falling off the radar again.
The record bursts through the gate with ‘Walk Away;’ a thunderous introduction with chugging riffage, heavy basslines and evocative vocal melodies and screams. The solos soar and the choruses are chant-worthy. ‘Death of the Angel‘ is about the point of view of Ted Bundy; a relatively darker track in both subject matter and sound. The track charges on at a rapid pace with Allen displaying his full vocal range with screaming highs and guttural lows. ‘Meat‘ changes the pace with a more groove-infused mid-tempo element with clear, groovy baselines and catchy hooks. ‘The River Red‘ continues on in the catchy, mid-tempo vein with more thunderous drumming, flying riffs and soaring vocals.
‘Burn‘ sees the return of those heavy basslines, insane riffs and more aggressive vocals. ‘Falling Down‘ lulls you in with a slow, melancholy guitar distortion and changes between a mid-tempo beat and a slower, doom-esque style throughout interspersed with more soaring solos. ‘Voodoo‘ literally starts off as the name suggests; with a tribal recording of chants and bongo-drums blending in to funky distortion before it all kicks off with thunderous drums, brutal vocals and groovy solos.
As the record descends in to the last third, ‘End of Everything‘ is just as ominous as it is thrashy. With a darker atmosphere to compliment the intricate guitar-work and blasting beats, this track is definitely made for the stage. The penultimate track ‘Blind‘ begins the conclusion of the record in all it’s blistering, thrashy, glory which slowly fades in to ‘Death Machine.’ A final push ending on intense guitar solos, thunderous blast-beats and both brutal and screaming vocals.
Having witnessed the birth of many iconic thrash metal bands, TRAUMA are more than just “the band Cliff Burton left to join Metallica.” It’s clear to see from their grand return after a 30 year silence that they are still very much so a driving force within the thrash metal scene and “Awakening” is the gateway to the thrashy glory they have always deserved.
“Awakening” will be released on the 9th of September 2022 via Massacre Records. You can pre-order the record here.
Check out our interview with TRAUMA drummer Kris Gustofson below.
Released By: Massacre Records
Release Date: 9th September 2022
For Fans Of: Judas Priest, Exodus, Slayer
Favourite Track(s): Death of the Angel, Meat, Burn, Falling Down, End of Everything