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Trappist System Trio: Arrival

There are many motivations behind the Russian progressive metal threesome Trappist System Trio, some being admittedly weird and some being rather wonderful. It’s a complex world in which they live, this St Petersburg outfit looking to stretch their boundaries in an entirely live setting with no touch-ups, no augmentations and no studio trickery. This is one take music taken to extremes as intricate arrangements and ideas are delivered with a real spark and the threat of aggression never far away. Lyrically things are even more… interesting… themes such as ornithology, lycanthropia and the circus arts, the order of the day. Obviously.

TST has previous, what with their ranks made up of musicians from prominent local Russian acts Retrial (Vladimir Kulikov - vocal, guitar) and Vergeltung (Dmitry Prilukov - bass, Evgeny Trefilov - drums). Although the three are joined on occasion by guest musicians Elena Feneva (Sopor), Leonid Perevalov (Yojo, Roz Vitalis) and Ivan Rozmainsky (Roz Vitalis, RMP). The band themselves describe the recording and mixing process of this ever expanding prog rock/metal as ‘DIY’ and while that may be an accurate description it undoubtedly sells the end results here somewhat short.

The band’s debut album, Arrival, may be a little lo-fi by modern standards and doesn’t possess the sheen that so many releases in this more left-field avantegarde prog setting do. That however adds a pointed attack and aggression that otherwise might be missing in the staccato grind and eclectically vocalised “Clown Within The Mask”. Whereas “Zombie Thrush” bounces off the walls with an almost punky undertone on the excellently arranged maelstrom that darts from blasts of clarinet to funk-slapped bass strings. This is crafted and cared for fare and yet rules seem to have been pretty much tipped out of the window as Trappist System Trio veer from style to style in the space of a few bars and then head in yet another diverse direction. And yet the end results of the jaunty but jagged “Dogmann” or the at first pensive and then boisterous “The Enlightened” aren’t impenetrable or wildly off the wall.

Arrival is by no means perfect but in many ways this outfit’s willingness to at least approach a genre that often feels a little tired, with a freshen of idea, while embracing aspects that arguably make building more generic fare something of a challenge, is possibly what being a ‘progressive’ band is really all about. Arrival holds rich rewards. You do have to wait patiently for some of them to be revealed and there’s no doubt that along the way you can spot more than few flaws but that’s part of the charm here. Add in tightly structured songs that are never tethered by expectations and Trappist System Trio become a truly interesting prospect.

Track Listing
1. Enlightened
2. Shrine Of Holes
3. Killing Pigeon
4. Lust And Found
5. Zombie Thrush
6. Dogmann
7. Cause And Defect
8. Clown Within The Mask
9. Salt The Wound

Added: September 1st 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Arrival on bandcamp
Hits: 664
Language: english

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