After the buzz built by their debut full-length Secrets of the World, Baltimore natives Trapped Under Ice had some weight on their shoulders when sitting down to pen their followup Big Kiss Goodnight. A little over two years removed from their debut, Big Kiss Goodnight is a marked step up for a hardcore band embracing their strengths and showing energy and growth in their mid-tempo mosh numbers. If you weren’t already on the TUI team, chances are this album will win you over with catchier riffs and passion-filled lyricism – making this the band’s strongest output to date.
From the opening calls of “Born to Die,” Trapped Under Ice waste no time getting into your head and getting your feet moving, with the back and forth between moving buzzsaw guitars with fits of simple, yet effective melodies. The approach is close to the same as before, but TUI jam with a sense of urgency and passion that wasn’t as clear before. Though the pushing guitars and Justice Tripp’s distinct vocals give the track enough to be attracted to it, the sludged-out breakdown near the end sweetens the deal even more. “Jail” brings a similar formula to the table, as the band finds familiarity and strength in shorter compositions as the mid-tempo track boasts verses of punching guitars and laid-back drumming, only to shed the facade for uptempo bursts. “True Love” shows the band at its slow-jam strongest though, sneaking in some clean vocals to gear us up for a stomper of a track that is paced by crunching guitars laced with melody and thunderous drumming. The confidence this band holds is shown throughout the tracks heard here, as they prove you don’t need to blast through every track on a record to prove you have passion for what you do.
That isn’t to say this record is stuck in the mud, as Trapped Under Ice turn up the tempo and ferocity when needed – “Still Cold” benefits from a breath of fresh air per se, as all facets of the band amp up for a redux on TUI’s long-standing mantra of ‘Stay Cold.’ “Pleased to Meet You” and “Reality Unfolds” feature slightly faster mosh-inducing guitar lines, with the latter ending the record in slow-mosh fashion as Tripp and company put the icing on the cake.
The brooding tempos of Big Kiss Goodnight only add to the pissed off nature of Tripp’s lyricism, which, while often falling into hardcore cliches, is delivered with razor sharp passion and blunt force. In any case, Tripp is full of spite towards the world around him, as a handful of randomly spouted profanities only adds to the cathartic nature of this record. The record as a whole finds reflections on the ups and downs of being your own person, as well as the backlash of said actions. “Born to Die” finds Tripp pleading to us to do what we can while embracing the inevitability of death – spouting with emotion in the track’s breakdown (‘One chance to live, we gotta make it right!’) to heighten the impact of the musical backdrop. “Outcast” and “Draw the Line” find Tripp in similar lyrical playgrounds as he contemplates his place in the world, with the former broadcasting distaste for those around him (“I’ve been outcast! From the likes of you, I don’t care for the likes of you”).
That isn’t to say Tripp is pushing the envelope lyrically. While his wording and delivery are arguably rising, he shows a slight tendency to fall into the traps of cliche (“Time Waits”) when it comes to topics for the record. Still, he has the passion and heart to make these words ring true. If anything, the lyrical consistency and connection between songs makes for a strong whole product, making it easier to identify with the feelings and views brought forth.
Big Kiss Goodnight might feel familiar in ways, but the musical execution and passionate narcissism of the lyrics make this album tough to turn your back to. Trapped Under Ice might not be rewriting the book on hardcore, but they certainly excel at creating a sound that is both abrasive and accessible. Given the catchy yet gritty nature of this record, you can expect this band to continue their rise in the hardcore world as they spread their message of coldness.