Trappist – Ancient Brewing Tactics (2018) REVIEW

Alcohol and I first met back in 1996 at a small impromptu teenaged house party where I was surrounded by acquaintances all roughly met within that last week. It was a gallon of Potter’s vodka and I chugged a glass of it on a porch swing and blacked out. Waking up in the hospital spitting at a nurse with a catheter seemingly jammed up in my lungs was probably the coolest I’d be as a teenager. I peaked early, considering what’d happened when I’d blacked out. I drank another glass, played the guitar, grabbed a boob, got punched in the face, barfed up some soup, and passed out. From there? They put me in a cold shower to try and wake me up, I barfed on myself again so they… took off my clothes, put me in the back of a pickup truck, and dumped me naked and unconscious in front of a local coffee shop. Believe it or not I’m not a hugely self-conscious person but I am a snitch and I ratted out every single motherfucker who dumped me like wet, naked trash that night. Fuck them all, fuck that town, and fuck vodka. I won’t even get into my introduction to ‘beer’ in the form of crotch-warmed Old English, nor the box of Franzia I drank in my bedroom closet while blowing hits of cheap, seedy B.C. weed into a sock.

By 2000 my townie friends were pushing Sparks, popping increasingly strong pain pills and jamming No Limit Records up my dumb teenage ass and I was done. Fuck them, fuck that town, and I never looked back. Sure, I was off smoking weed by myself listening to Neurosis and Bad Brains but you get the idea; I never enjoyed alcohol as an idiot teenager in the suburbs, when (and where) it really counts. As a professional adult for at least fifteen years now~ I’ve been put through the ringer; My decade in Portland saw a literal hundred microbrewery/pub start ups pushing sour piss and sea water slime (Rogue) filled tasting trays, shitty burgers, and too much goddamn pork belly. In college I gave up and gave in, drinking cheap watered down beer at the Roseland Theater, sharing Pall Malls with strangers in the balcony and for sure getting cold sores from it. Metal is a weed sport in my opinion and requires little upkeep for a good hour or two of tension and bravado; By contrast hardcore punk is generally a beer fueled body-loosening experience that demands excess. I mean didn’t Beer basically sing for Poison Idea? I guess I’m more likely to chug coffee before any show these days, so that I can stay awake and remember a couple of the songs.

So who gives a shit about brewing beer? The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance aka Trappists/Trappistines are a Catholic religious sect who dedicate their lives to contemplation of the divine, essentially reading old Biblical fiction and staring at the walls until Death eventually shows mercy. To keep from going insane, and DIY fund their own cause, Trappists have a long tradition of developing craft to keep their monasteries rolling in cash. Of course the monasteries in Belgium and the Netherlands are world renowned for their perfection of ale. Talk to any European chest-puffer and they’ll say the world is full of beer drinking pussies and ale’s higher alcohol content and deeply bitter taste has the biggest dick and the hairiest chest on the block. Los Angeles, California based hardcore punk/powerviolence trio Trappist represent far more refined elitist ale-hounds and IPA snoots. Their recommended pairings for their debut full-length ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’ heavily favor sludgy stouts, heady porters to compliment it’s muscular, jocular hardcore grooves. Fine palates are on display between the brew snobs and hardcore gods on deck for Trappist.

Powerviolence has it’s short list of heroes and Chris Dodge (Spazz, Lack of Interest) is the  go-to face on the wanted poster for the sub-genre’s prime legacy thanks to heading up Slap-a-Ham Records; Dodge joins guitarist Phil Vera (Crom, Despise You) and reality TV star (Great Food Truck Race, Season 1) and Grill ‘Em All co-owner Ryan Harkins for a wild ride through fast and fun parody-filled hardcore. I know neither all powerviolence nor 80’s hardcore offer exclusively serious post-apocalyptic suffering but, the classic crossover thrash sense of humor coming from Trappist borders on goofiness despite some maniacal aggression. Equal parts Impulse Manslaughter as it is Capitalist Casualties ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’ is a too-old-to-party dad’s paradise with dips into Zeke, Anti-Cimex, and early Discharge territory with guest shouts from members of Iron Reagan, Floor, and Pig Destroyer. The whole thing plays like a thirty minute “Get off my lawn!” aimed at beer posers, corporate swine, and philistines (such as myself) who can’t possible appreciate the fine-tuned craft of brew life.

I’d have a raw snatch about being such a beer poser if Trappist‘s debut was any less capable with it’s free-wheeling, groove heavy, and occasionally hilarious hardcoring. I had fun with ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’ and I’m sure that is the damn point. Even if it isn’t he most serious, timely shit you might expect Trappist‘s debut ends up being one of the strongest, well-rounded hardcore punk experiences of 2018 so far. For preview I could probably recommend at least half the damn album but my favorites start with the D.C.-meets-LA hardcore hammer of “Tesguino” side-by-side with supreme grooves of “The Patron Saints”, Tony Foresta doing his best Spike Cassidy on “Hymn to Ninkasi”, the NYHC shout out cheese of “Swignorant”, and the old school breakdown of “You’re the Reason”. Good fun if you feel like dropping that serious, phone-tapping face and jiggling in your seat to some powerviolent brew-core.


Artist Trappist
Type Album
Released August 17, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Relapse Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Trappist on Facebook
Genre Hardcore Punk,

Dry-hopping and driving. 3.75/5.0

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