CD Review: Blitzen Trapper “Destroyer of the Void”

After a painfully spastic effort in Wild Mountain Nation, it seemed as though Blitzen Trapper had wrangled its broad stylistic inclinations under one banner on 2008’s Furr. Sacrificing ambition and diversity for immediacy and cohesion wasn’t of calamitous critical consequence (triple score) as the album garnered praise across the board. Apparently, it mattered to the Portland outfit nonetheless. A lot.

They shoot for the stratosphere from the start on Destroyer Of The Void with a theatrical title track that doesn’t absorb their influences, but inflates them to incalculable levels of absurdity. Prog flourishes have become titanic gaudy arrangements, Eric Earley’s inoffensive voice has become a mincing emulator, and the group invests such drive in this dubious opener that there’s little fuel left to carry the record to the finish line — this comprises its foremost flaw: the monolithic first track doesn’t simply flounder as a single strike, it also exhausts the sextet’s supply of spirit and verve.

The remaining roots-oriented numbers are quite bland as a result with ‘Laughing Lover’, ‘Evening Star’, and another handful failing to stand their ground. Blitzen Trapper’s mannered acoustic side rears its head on ‘Below The Hurricane’, ‘The Man Who Would Speak True’, and ‘The Tree’ – a duet with the equally soporific Alela Diane. Save for the stocky country-rock entry ‘Love And Hate,’ as well as the guitar wailing on ‘Dragon’s Song’, Destroyer Of The Void is all too plain and polite, due on one hand to workaday compositions and on the other to Earley’s frontman deficiencies. Never has he been earmarked prominence of this degree and his pipes can’t color the music in any distinct hue — they’re content to fill in the space. There’s no grit, character, or spice to BT’s second Sup Pop outing. Compound this with a marked absence of sun-soaked melody and we happen on a record which is somewhat sundry again, only it doesn’t feel eccentric as Wild Mountain Nation did. Destroyer Of The Void feels like there’s no feeling involved. Neither catchy nor cavalier, neither here nor there.

Rating: 4.1 / 10

Check out Blitzen Trapper at: http://www.myspace.com/blitzentrapper

Destroyer Of The Void