It is fitting that ten seconds into Blitzen Trapper’s fifth full-length record, front man Eric Earley utters that most sacred of rock ‘n’ roll tropes: “For to love is to leave or to run like a rollin’ stone,” he sings in the harmonized verse that leads off the album’s epic title track, “Destroyer of the Void.” As is the case with just about every musician or band that has employed the Blues’ greatest simile, Blitzen Trapper is unabashed in its embrace of tradition.
Over the course of their four full-lengths albums to date, including their revelatory 2008 Sub Pop release Furr, the Portland band has already made that much clear. And, Earley’s considerable poetic talents and his band’s hard-earned chops have gained them a growing international audience. This fifth album, Destroyer of the Void, takes Blitzen Trapper one step further, building on the band’s seamless marriage of the familiar and the fantastic to, literally, create an otherworldly experience.
But there is more to Blitzen Trapper than those traditions. More than anything, the band credits its music to its Pacific Northwest home. It is there that the six members came together ten years ago and formed a creative cauldron from which would emerge numerous novels, a locally-celebrated play based on the film Manos: The Hands of Fate, innumerable art projects and, of course, a flood of fantastical songs. Destroyer of the Void is only the latest work to emerge from this world, but it is one where their musical community is on full display.
The heart of Destroyer of the Void, though, is still found in Earley’s meticulous songwriting. Here he is firmly in storyteller mode, expanding on the mythical world he created on Furr. That album introduced listeners to a ragged but beautiful world populated by mysterious killers, anthropomorphic narrators and benevolent women living in watery ways. Here, those characters are joined by a wandering tailor, a black-eyed lover, a flower-tongued balladeer and, of course, a host of lost lovers rolling along the road of life to a truly original American soundtrack.