Trappist System Trio - Arrival

9 songs
43:32 minutes
***** ****
Fono Ltd.


Did you know that there is a red dwarf star named after Belgian Trappist beer? Me neither! Progressive rock trio Trappist System Trio from Saint Petersburg in Russia are seemingly fond of astronomy and Belgian beers, especially the latter, if you look at their coaster shaped band logo.

The band has been founded in 2017, and within the space of two years they have accumulated already enough good material that they decided to release their first album Arrival. The trio keeps it simple, from a musical point of view: they use guitar, bass and drums in a way that makes it possible to reproduce the songs in a live setting. Occasionally session musicians have added a bit of keyboards here and there, and thereís also bass clarinet on two songs.

The first thing that struck me was that apart from the eight-and-a-half-minute long opener, the songs are all rather short, running between three and five minutes. But thatís not for want of ideas, but rather using the spirit of Canadian prog band Rush from the Eighties onwards who back then claimed that what it took twenty minutes to do back in the Seventies can now be distilled into much shorter songs. But letís get back to Trappist System Trio, whose album starts with the long The Enlightened, a perfect example about how guitar driven progressive rock has to sound. The guitar plays a myriad of riffs, sometimes catchy, sometimes more offbeat, and is accompanied by a very able rhythm section, with the bass guitar taking a prominent role and the drums also doing more than just laying down a simple beat. The vocals are quite clear and emphatic, with the final result reminding me of mid-era Sieges Even, especially their two little noticed albums Sophisticated (1995) and Uneven (1997), or also the even more obscure Prklz who released their only album Deuce in 1995. So there is a definitive flair of mid-Nineties German prog metal, but due to the instrumental line-up of the band, I felt also reminded of certain crossover acts from the Nineties, with Dogmann having a haunting Primus flair in its final section. Other highlights include the first Zombie Thrush which despite its three-minute short length comes with this strange bass clarinet part that gives it a very ethereal atmosphere.

For a debut album from musicians who have only been playing for two years, Arrival is much better than anyone could have expected. In times where even in the progressive rock genre itís hard to set new accents, Trappist System Trio seem to look back, unconsciously or not, into the Nineties at a very narrow time slice when the genre went way under the radar. This is what makes Arrival sound so fresh and unused. Fans of melodic progressive rock that donít mind a few metal parts will be delighted by these accessible songs that over the course of repeated listening will reveal always new facets. What a pleasant surprise indeed!

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