In 2013, Elisa Lam was found at the bottom of a large water tank atop LA’s Cecil Hotel. The exact sequence of events is still a subject of debate, but what made the case particularly eerie were the details that were revealed to the public throughout the investigation. First was the chilling security footage showing Lam entering and exiting an elevator several times while mashing buttons for different floors, waving her hands, peeking down the hallway, and occasionally retreating to the far corner as if hiding from someone or something. Then came the flood of conspiracy theories that strung tenuous connections between unrelated but nonetheless unsettling facts concerning tuberculosis tests, late-20th century serial killers, and a 2002 Japanese horror film.
Fly in the Trap, UK black metal band Spider God‘s debut album, touches on these elements and more, taking listeners on a tour of the Cecil hotel and the minds of the major players, including Elisa Lam herself. Like most true-crime narratives, the album mixes fact, fiction, and speculation to weave a haunting yet poignant tale. Just as Lam and the detectives assigned to her case found themselves lost in the hotel’s hallways, one cannot resist the album’s morbid, magnetic pull.
What makes Fly in the Trap even more alluring is the seemingly never-ending stream of hypnotic melodies that have come to define Spider God’s brand of black metal. The band’s previously established pop sensibilities are sharpened to a veritable knife-point by stampeding blast beats, soaring tremolo riffs, chiming synths, and ragged snarls–or perhaps it’s the other way around, as “G., Spider God’s driving force, […] applies pop’s melodies as if they’re eyeliner, blush, and lipstick to black metal’s proverbial corpse-painted face” (to quote Colin Dempsey’s excellent breakdown of the title track). Each of the album’s macabre vignettes is punctuated and counterpointed by this fiercely, almost brazenly catchy songwriting, lending the narrative a constant sense of urgency that will leave listeners breathless.
Below, you can stream the album ahead of its Friday release and read a statement from G. detailing their primary inspirations.
The elevator doors are open. Do you dare to step outside?
When asked about the album’s writing process, G. had this to say:
During the Covid-ridden summer of 2021, I took a deep dive into the Elisa Lam case, becoming more and more obsessed with the theories surrounding her disappearance. Each song is told from a different perspective, including an insomniac police officer (“Flies in the Trap”), a desperate web sleuth (“The Fifty Second Murderer” and “Labyrinth of Hallways”), and even Elisa herself (“Traces of Hubris,” “The Hermit and Hiroshima Mon Amour”). Elisa’s blog is still online, and I used a lot of direct quotations in the lyrics (in fact, the whole of The Hermit is lifted almost verbatim from her own posts), which lends the tracks an eerie authenticity. There are references to various conspiracy theories throughout the album, such as the Missing 50 Seconds theory, Invisible Light Company Cloaking theory and the uncanny parallels to Dark Water, as well as literary references inspired by her tumblr blog, like the Salmon Rushdie quote on her gravestone and links to Macbeth, Yeats’ poetry, The Great Gatsby, Ariadne’s thread and Frida Kahlo’s final words. Even the album art contains clues and enigmas if you look closely enough. There’s a lot to unpack (too much for this summary) but my hope is that a few interested fans will follow me down the rabbit hole.
Fly in the Trap releases Friday, November 11th, on Repose Records.