This one is a goddamn novel. At 21 tracks, Ancient Brewing Tactics crams in more sweat, more grime, and more dirty riffs then any punk band has any right to. The one problem? They never seem to do anything half interesting with all the runtime. Hardcore (um…) hardcore fans will get off to their meat-and-potatoes brand of audio clobbering, but those seeking a spark of creativity will have to keep looking elsewhere.
Trappist play the sort of punk that never dies. The influence of NYHC pioneers Cro-Mags and Sick Of It All looms large over the entire record. Also in the mix is some early Metallica, early Napalm Death, and early Hatebreed. If this hasn’t come across yet, Trappist are a deliberately old-school project. This always has the potential to turn out incredibly (see Terror for examples), so long as things don’t become derivative. Unfortunately, this band fall for it hook, line, and sinker. Trappist becomes trapped, as an endless circle of callbacks eclipses any new ideas the band might have. It’s hard to get into when all you can do is think about how well other bands did this close to 30 years ago.
At least their message is clear. Trappist earn their self-given title of “Craft Beer Punk Band.” The hoppy wheat juice makes an appearance in no less than seven song titles, including “To The Pint,” “Wolves In The Taproom,” and “99 Problems (But A Beer Ain’t One).” Considering that one of the band’s three members is Grill ‘Em All burger joint owner Ryan Harkins, maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that Trappist are a bar band at heart. They have no delusions of grandeur or rock-stardom. They just want to down a few pints and bang a few chords.
Which is what makes all the high-profile cameos so much more rewarding. Blake Harrison of Pig Destroyer shows up, as does Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste and Iron Reagan. These feature spots might give Trappist the push they need to jump to the next level, or at least put them in contact with the people who will do that pushing for them. Strike while the iron is hot and they could have a grand touring career ahead. Or they can rest upon their modest laurels and become the 2018 equivalent of a cassette box set. Either way, they’ll do what they want. And there’s nothing more hardcore than that…
Written by Max Morin
*edited by Kate Erickson