Trench – Encased In Chrome (EP Review)

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Did you hear about that massive earthquake in Canada recently? It was caused by Trench dropping their latest EP “Encased In Chrome”. It’s a superbly heavy and entertaining release, spanning 11 minutes, and in those minutes the listener is taken to some pretty cool and unexpected places. If you thought their 2020 album “Blossom” was something great, then you’re going to love “Encased In Chrome”.

The Calgary quintet have been unleashing carnage since 2016, and they haven’t stopped since. Furthermore, they haven’t gotten softer, they’ve remained just as animalistic but have refined that animosity in a way that only maturity can manifest. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not predictable in its refined state, at all. It’s still pure chaos, but chaos in a focused delivery, and because of this it’s memorable and exciting to engage with.

Honestly, I haven’t felt this intimidated since the Nails album “Abandon All Life” was shown to me. “Encased In Chrome” is an intense mix of violence that can be best (albeit loosely) summed up as metallic hardcore. Don’t let this umbrella term mislead you, however. In the relatively short time span that this EP wrecks you, you’ll be led through moments of melody, electronica, rap and multiple sub-genres of death and core. This eclectic combination of sounds and styles is both something new from the band, as well as something expected from them. With each release, Trench constantly reinvents themselves from a solid foundation that is true to their core, and because of this, each offering is most certainly a Trench record, but offered from a new perspective.

Title track “Encased In Chrome” is where the listener begins their new Trench experience. In less than a minute, gravity becomes stronger, pulling the listener’s stomach down as a cacophony of blast beats, demonic chugs and intense vocals shroud the soundscape like a looming shadow. Those who enjoy bands such as Knocked Loose, END, and Nails will absolutely love the similarities that Trench put forward in the first 45 seconds of the EP. It feels like a powerful and brazen statement from the band which could be as simple and terrifying as the phrase “you’re not ready for this…”

Imminent Power Looming” follows, and the listener is dropped into a technological void without warning. In this moment the band feels omnipresent, being able to strike the listener at any time from any angle. A sinister bass line at the hands of Tony Chan rumbles across the listener’s brain, and with Jay Breen’s vulgar vocals, the rest of Trench strike, hard. They pummel and pulverize with intense rhythms and patterns, and combined with Breen’s vocals, the listener is constantly put under critical pressure. This is further emphasized by the terrifically overpowering nature of the production, carried out by Jordan Chase at Oodelally Recordings. Everything is turned up, then turned up again just for good measure. Distortion is everywhere, but there are moments that are stripped back to help cleanse the listener’s palette.

Take, for example, the small intermission in “Imminent Power Looming”. It’s almost soothing, offering a small chance to breathe like an air pocket in an underwater cave. Take a deep breath though, because Breen plunges you back into the chaos, screaming “no sense of home” before one of the EP’s biggest breakdowns obliterates. The unpredictable nature of the songwriting in this EP is something anyone will appreciate. The pacing is erratic, and though this can be a negative point in some releases, it’s certainly not when related to “Encased In Chrome”. The band doesn’t write music erratically, however, and that’s important to distinguish. Trench know exactly what they’re writing, and when to stop and start the chaos machine.

Because of this, the listener is challenged not to fall into expecting the same things across the EP, because it rarely happens. “Unforgiven Remains”, the longest track on this offering, is a perfect case for this point. It’s melodic and atmospheric, definitely a highlight off the EP. Guitarists Bryce Jassman and Cole Young play some devious licks, groove through riffs and chug away to their hearts’ content. The track even gives Tony Chan some time in the spotlight on the bass. The listener can hear some great melodies played by the bass through the first half of the track.

The reason to raise “Unforgiven Remains” as a good case for the EP’s unpredictability, though? Well, the whole second half of this track is commandeered by a guest performance from rapper Guilty Simpson, a member of the Detroit collective Almighty Dreadnaughtz. It comes out of nowhere, but those gritty and hard-as-concrete characteristics of Simpson’s performance perfectly fit into the personality of “Encased In Chrome”. It’s dark and filled with attitude, and it adds a whole new sound to the EP, and subsequently the band.

Track 4 begins with a burst of sludgy metal that oozes and slithers along in a wonderfully dreadful way. At one point, it quickens its pace briefly, striking with irregular timing, then returns straight back into the earth-stomping rhythm it started with. “Sharpened Narcotics” immediately brings some heavy imagery to the forefront of the listener’s mind. It’s pretty dark territory, this EP, and Trench are diving into it headfirst, with us dragged in with them. The lyrics are just as raw and visceral in their nature as the tracks. Breen’s writing throughout this EP is impressive, as it has been throughout Trench’s discography. The lyrics transport the listener elsewhere with intense metaphor and imagery, helping to paint a picture that is injected into each track. With all of this heaviness combined in “Sharpened Narcotics”, I seriously think I felt the chugs from the guitars in my spine.

Solar Hallucinations” drifts by, offering 20 seconds of weightlessness blemished with uneasiness. Too quickly? Perhaps… though why wait in the technological ether when the devastating ending track “Be All End All” is right around the corner? This is Trench’s last assault on the listener, and it’s no less shattering than the opening attack. In fact, it might be the most attention-grabbing track. It’s unbridled in its chaos, with the guitars playing some seriously intense parts, the drums absolutely crushing it with bewildering patterns, and the vocals scorching the listener relentlessly. The wild synth layers that are just as jarring as the instruments are a great addition to the sound, and it makes for a threatening but marvelous ending track. Don’t be dismayed if you need a moment of respite before going back for a second listen, though. Enjoy the silence for a bit, for as you can see, Trench don’t like giving you much of it when they’re in charge.

Encased In Chrome” is short in its duration, but quite literally jam-packed with aggression and entertainment. There are full-length albums that have considerably less depth than this EP, and that’s only one reason Trench should be nothing less than insanely proud of this release. The incorporation of unique sounds and layers into the band’s identity, not least of all, Guilty Simpson’s well-placed appearance, shows that Trench have matured into a force that shouldn’t be dismissed. Their songwriting has developed immensely over their career, and that deserves appreciation and praise. The highlight track for me is “Unforgiven Remains”, though the whole EP is worth putting on repeat.

Fans of Trench are going to be more than satisfied with “Encased In Chrome”. New listeners are also going to be satisfied… they’re just going to be terrified first.

Released On: March 18th2022
Released By: New Damage Records
Genre: Metallic Hardcore

Musicians:

  • Jay Breen / Vocals/Synth
  • Tommy Chan / Drums
  • Tony Chan / Bass
  • Cole Young / Guitar/Programming
  • Bryce Jassman / Guitar

“Encased In Chrome” Track-list:

  1. Encased In Chrome
  2. Imminent Power Looming
  3. Unforgiven Remains (Feat. Guilty Simpson)
  4. Sharpened Narcotics
  5. Solar Hallucinations
  6. Be All End All

7.4 Very Good

Trench is a name that you will be seeing more and more of. Their latest EP “Encased In Chrome” is deserving of everyone’s attention. In a short time, the Calgary 5-piece obliterates the listener with a calculated chaos that only comes from a band who know exactly how to write at this level of extreme metal. The production is intense and overbearing, just how it should be, and the integration of new sounds and approaches to the band’s personality is worth all the praise they receive. Do not skip this EP.

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 7
  • Originality 7
  • Production 7.5
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