Reviews

Trappist, Ancient Brewing Tactics (Relapse Records, 2018)

If you’ve ever wondered how many novelty punk songs someone could write about beer, the answer given by the upcoming release from Los Angeles based Trappist is “at least 21.”  

When you think about it, the level of dedication it takes to work alcohol-related puns into every aspect of an album, including the track number, is not unimpressive. Also not unimpressive is the list of hardcore veterans affiliated with the project: musicians who have been in such bands as Spazz, Despise You, and Infest, guest spots by members of Municipal Waste, Iron Reagan, and Pig Destroyer.

It does not necessarily logically follow that if you hate beer you will hate this release, but it does make that possibility more likely.  Everyone is familiar with the well-seasoned debate about separating the art from the artist, and here you have a bit more complex case of separating the theme of the art from the actual content of the art.

Is the music good? Yes. Is the idea corny as hell? Unless you fit in a somewhat small crossover of people who love beer, hardcore, and puns, also yes. That being said, you’ve got great riffs, great vocals, badass song composition...it just so happens that every song is about beer. Or brewing. Or hating hipsters who like the wrong kind of beer.

Something about the lyric “I’ll kick your hipster ass” in the context of domestic beer appreciation seems like it may appeal to a very specific subset of hardcore fans.  The songs are definitely there, and though certainly a horse of a different color than former power violence projects, the riffs aren’t joking around.

Played totally straight and taken at face-value, you’ve got a bastion of the multifaceted punk ethos: not taking yourself too seriously, fully committing to a lifestyle, and railing against the dark specter of corporate hegemony.  

If you find yourself reaching for a deeper meaning, however, you can start to appreciate what could been seen as perfectly pitched satire. It takes a semi-absurd theme as seriously as some of those classic hardcore tropes; unity, staying true, local pride, crew roll-calls…etc., and takes it to the nth degree, playing it deadly serious.

Photo: Paul Lee

Where hardcore beats a dead horse, this album pumps a tapped keg, and at only 33 minutes, you can’t say it doesn’t go down easy. 

Ancient Brewing Tactics will be out on Aug. 17 via Relapse Records and is available for pre-order at the links below.

Get It

Tagged: despise you, infest, spazz, trappist

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