Religions are built around the holiest of works preserved in print through thousands of years of time. Modern globalism has contributed to this current melting pot of nationalities we have today, especially in North America. So, how has the dedicated circle of beer and alcohol enthusiasts been operating in absolute chaos over the past hundreds of thousands of years without a book of worship? Well, Trappist has come to solve such a conundrum. Their debut Ancient Brewing Tactics serves as an official bible, or manifesto if you will, for all things beer-related.
NO COROPORATE BEER!
Coming from the populous Los Angeles metal scene, Trappist doesn’t fly with those weird kids around the block whose lyrics are unintelligible and who play this weird music called “death metal”. Staying away from popular metal themes such as gore, filth, and defilement, Trappist sings about political correctness, social issues, and the wage gap. Just kidding, these guys are a trio of alcoholics who struggle to play guitar because they need their picking hands to chug beers.
In all seriousness, Ancient Brewing Tactics is a very unserious yet masterfully-crafted piece of crossover thrash which is accented by tinges of hardcore and punk influences. While I’m a big fan of sodomy myself, sometimes we all just need a well-deserved break from all the witch hunts and church burning and Trappist represents that side of metal that serves as a getaway from it all.
Right out of the gates, the song titles on this album are chock-full with beer puns and hilarity. Some of my favourites are “This Means Wort” (wort being an extract created by the brewing process), “Wolves in the Taproom” (a play on words highlighting the band Wolves in the Throne Room), and Nihamanchnihamanchii (whatever that means).
On another note, the album features a guest appearance from Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste and Iron Reagan, two other fairly popular crossover bands within the movement as of late. Such an inclusion is fitting, as the man is clearly fond of the devil’s brew, and because Ancient Brewing Tactics serves as a grouping of various talents as all original Trappist members come from different bands from the area.
On a sonic level, the release is blisteringly fast yet altogether mixed as a result of the inclusion of a few slower sections within the drunken chaos. Pretty much every song falls short from the two-minute mark, barring a few tracks here and there and the epic album-closer “Trappist-1: Final Gravity” (named after the Trappist-1 solar system). The vocal performances are raw and punk-edged, but not enough so that the release will scare off metalheads; this is still a crossover album in my opinion, even though people are throwing around different genres here and there.
While alcohol has always been a necessity within the metal world, Trappist isn’t the first group to dedicate their band to the ritual. Germany’s Tankard is the most popular contender within this beer-chugging/guitar-picking sub-subgenre of music, who are most famous for being the “unwanted” member of the Teutonic Big Four (Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, and Tankard), who all started way back in the early eighties. While the love of beer is obviously the major one, many notable similarities can be established between the two bands. Most importantly is the two group’s blatant admittance to their craft which is accompanied by a secondary effort to make some pretty damn good music. People tend to write them off, but Tankard has some excellent tracks, even in comparison to the output of their thrashing contemporaries at the time. Even though their 1987 album Chemical Invasion is certainly no Pleasure to Kill, the album as a whole is really solid, and even manages to push a wider message.
While Chemical Invasion and Ancient Brewing Tactics both have a fair share of nutty numbers, both feature honest attempts at decent music. Tankard proves their worth with “For a Thousand Beers”, a seven-minute instrumental which, despite the name, serves as a great and interesting slab of music. In addition, Trappist’s debut concludes with “Tappist 1: Final Gravity”, a longer, more elaborate track that also proves their worth as musicians. I applaud these additions because they offer any defenders of the faith material to point to when death-metal-diehards inevitably say Tankard or Trappist aren’t “real metal”.
Ultimately, Trappist will piss some people off but only those who are ignorant and close-minded. People love to rag on Tankard (and especially me when I praise the band) and people will undoubtedly do the same to Trappist. However, they are pushing the beer bible with the best form of music and they are doing it well, which earns at bare minimum a thumbs-up in my opinion. For fans of Power Trip, Iron Reagan, and other crossover groups alike.