The Snake Trap – At Home in a Hostile World

The Snake Trap
At Home in a Hostile World

The Snake Trap tried to impress me with a nudge and a wink, pointing to the fact that their live debut was at a Fender Guitars corporate shindig. The more I think about it, the more preposterous this idea becomes: I suppose Fender Guitars might have slightly more radical executives than, say, Johnson & Johnson, but still, imagining “Four Sores and Seven Beers Ago” among the water pitchers and mahogany paneling produces involuntary shudders. There has to be some nepotism at work here. The band even secured a slot at the Tempe Music Festival the very next day! News travels fast in that part of the country, I suppose. But how many bands play a festival without any performance history?

To compound my confusion, At Home in a Hostile World is as mindlessly banal as its title suggests— it is all, in a word, transparent braggadocio (can you not imagine a professional wrestler boasting that he’s “at home in a hostile world”?). Unfortunately, it’s also worrisome. I can’t shake the impression that The Snake Trap’s formation is an indication that instrumental music has reached the same nadir that the characters of SLC Punk lamented— this album wouldn’t be nearly as awful with some shitty nu-rock vocals in the mix, but, as instrumental music is now a viable approach for grease-stained, ham-fisted rock, laziness has excised that option.

The odd thing is, At Home in a Hostile World sounds a lot like an old Drive Like Jehu record for which Rick Froberg never got around to recording the vocals. Why, oh, why leave out such a critical component? Like ordinary 90’s math-rock, the record sets out to pulverize its 48 minutes, with no ritardando, diminuendo, crescendo, no tempo changes. All of which would, if placed within the proper context, be perfectly acceptable, if not thoroughly enjoyable. But, as it stands, one would be better entertained watching a 14-year-old brother’s band practice— At Home in a Hostile World is that tedious. Here’s my advice to the Snake Trap: acquire a decent vocalist post-haste, and never, ever use Explosions in the Sky in a self-referencing sentence again. Otherwise, thy sins are not cardinal; good taste is but a simple matter to exercise.