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Trappist System Trio - Arrival CD (album) cover


Trappist System Trio


Experimental/Post Metal

3.26 | 6 ratings

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4 stars The Russian experimental/post metal band 'Trappist System Trio' is one of those bands that sounds like it has been together for quite some time, however, they only released their debut album in 2019 called 'Arrival'. Right off the bat, this trio of Vladimir Kulikov (vocals, guitar), Dmitriy Prilukov (bass) and Evgeny Trfilove (drums) attack this album with a smart sounding, eclectic and heavy sound, that captures the listener right at the onset. It might be helped along by veteran progger Ivan Rozmainsky (Roz Vitalis) is a guest keyboardist for 3 of the tracks here, including 'The Enlightened', which is the track that instantly takes you by surprise at how 'together' the music sounds. But, when it comes down to it, Rozmainsky knows he is a guest, and is content to sit back and let the core trio prove their talent in this 8 minute opener. There is one problem with it all though. Kulikov is the vocalist, and his vocals are an acquired taste. In music like this, however, that might be a minor issue as everything else in this opening track is exactly what you want it to be. Heavy, quirky, a bit over-the-top in showmanship, but damn, this is an eye and ear opening track.

Well, that's all just great, but there are 8 other tracks to listen to here. Can this new band carry their weight through it all?

To make sure this band could pull off the one-two punch of rousing openers, Rozmainsky is utilized again in 'Shrine of Holes'. However, once again, his influence in this track seems minor, nothing like the more experimental and fusion sound of Roz Vitalis, and the keys are used more as foundation then anything else, thus allowing the 'sparse' instrumentation to take over. However, with only 3 people in the core band, it is amazing the level of heavy eclectic guitar prog that is evident here sound more like twice that number. Even though all of the songs after the first one stay around the 4-5 minute mark, each one still packs enough progressive energy and metal complexity to keep the proggers happy.

The vocals are still sounding like they will take some getting used to, but they do provide the over the top sound that is demanded in the music. The accent is heavy since the songs are in English, though the Russian inflection is there quite strongly. Nothing wrong with that, but the slightly quirky, sometimes off-key singing can be a slight factor here. The heavy riffs in 'Killing Pigeon' however will make you want to keep listening, even now that you are 3 songs into the album. The vocalist will also throw in a surprising emotional growl that usually takes the listener into a riveting guitar/bass/drum section that can blow the loose hairs off the top of your head with the energy coming out of your speakers.

'Lust and Found' and 'Zombie Thrush' come next in line, and these tracks were already released in an EP a year or two before this album was released. However, the songs fit right in with the heavy and eclectic sound. The latter brings in another Russian guest who has appeared on other Russian progressive albums, namely Leonid Perevalov, who brings his bass clarinet into the fray. It's a nice touch, and also reminds the listener that this is post metal, so expect a bit of a jazz touch to 'Zombie Thrush' added to the quirky sound of it all. This bass clarinet reappears along with more keys by Rozmainsky in the next track 'Dogmann'. Something else that needs to be mentioned here is the fact that the lyrics are a definite satirical take on the lyrics that are common in many metal albums. The lyrics are silly, but it's intentional, and you will know this if you listen closely to them in this track and the previous 'Killing Pigeon' and 'Zombie Thrush'. But, listening to the complex and progressive quirkiness of the instrumental power here lets you know the band is serious when it comes to talent.

'Cause and Defect' begins in the same quirky, heavy style, but is set apart by the instrumental break when things get extra noisy and chaotic. 'Clown within the Mask' features another guest keyboardist with Elena Feneva who adds a bit of synth atmosphere to the chorus of this track. There are also some excellent guitar and bass solos packed in the track along with a somewhat short, rhapsodic piano ending keeping things interesting. The album ends with 'Salt the Wound' which delivers that last quirky, progressive guitar punch needed to complete the album.

This is quite a fun and excellent album full of quirky progressiveness, heavy music, goofy, sarcastic lyrics and many a surprise packed in. The few problems have to do with the vocals which are a bit overly dramatic at times, not that that is a bad thing, but by the end of the album, you are wishing that a few of the tracks had been instrumentals to break it up a bit more. By the time you reach the final three tracks, the vocals are starting to wear on you a bit. The other issue is that the guests are a bit underutilized and should stand out a little more to give more depth to the music. The band really achieves this in 'Zombie Thrush' and 'Dogmann' with the bass clarinet, but the guest keyboardists are hardly even noticed. I understand that the band wants to emphasize their basic 3 person line up, but they could have still kept that balance and let more of the keys shine through when they were used. Otherwise, what's the point of adding them, really? These are minor issues, but all together, along with the 'acquired taste' needed for the vocals, this takes the album to a 4 star rating. But overall, it is strong enough to deserve more attention than what it has been getting.

Standout tracks are 'Enlightened', 'Zombie Thrush', 'Dogmann' 'Shrine of Holes' and 'Killing Pigeon' (in that order). Main issue: throw in some instrumental tracks and utilize guests better to add more depth. Excellent album.

TCat | 4/5 |


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