Trappist: Hell bent for brews

Sometimes a band just finds that golden ticket, combining topics that were not before really connected. Metal and punk have a long history with beer. Good beer, bad beer, truly bad beer and so forth, but everyone has an appraisal for the glorious taste of Trappist. Naming your band after the brewing monks concoction only seems natural when you really look at it.

Trappist combine thrashing metal, d-beat punk and tongue-in-cheek humor to create a tasty bit of music to be savored with high-pace and sturdy drinks. The band consists out of Chris Dodge (Spazz, ex-Despise You, ex-Infest, etc.), Phil Vera (Crom, Despise You, ex-(16)-) and Ryan Harkins (co-owner of popular heavy metal-themed burger joint Grill Em’ All), I’m excited to have found the gents willing to answer some questions for Stranger Aeons. So here it goes!

Brew’m all: Trappist

Can you tell me how Trappist got started? And what role does Hour of the Barbarian play in it?

Ryan and Chris were fucking off doing some songs together and we’re going to just release a 7”. They asked me to join and we started writing all kinds of songs and realized we could do a whole record. Hour of the Barbarian is our time to get drunk and bullshit and talk about the crap we’ve been doing and also go on extra long tangents and interrupt Ryan whenever we get the chance.

You’ve all been in other bands, what is different about this project?

All the bands I’ve either played in or still play in have been different that’s for sure. It helps to actually be playing in a trio though. Less fucking people to deal with to get stuff done. That’s a major difference.

Do you guys also actually brew beer? I have the feeling you do. 

Dodge has brewed beer with a couple guys from Eagle Rock Brewery, but I can’t remember what they brewed?

Can you tell me about the process of creating ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’? Over what period did it happen and how did it go down?

We originally did a 10 song demo that we were going to try to put out ourselves, but Relapse was interested so we used some of the demo songs and wrote a bunch more for the record. From the beginning of the recording to the actual release date it took about a year. That includes getting the artwork together, consuming beverages, etc.

You are all in prolific bands, so how did you find time for this record? 

We all got our stuff going on, but we make time for this since it’s a blast to do. We also do the podcast (Hour Of The Barbarian) here and there so it breaks up the whole practice and writing songs monotony so we can just sit around and bullshit.

How did you compose the beer list to accompany the album? How much sampling and testing went with compiling it?

Dodge did the whole composing and compiling of the beer list. He did very extensive research for this (have you seen his Big Year in Beer blog?). (Ed. Now I did, so check it out here).

What would you rather do: brew your own Trappist or tour the Trappist locations in Belgium (and sample their brews)?

Hmmm, that’s a tough call. I don’t think we would be welcome in the actual Trappist locations so I would be down to just brew our own Trappist beer.

If you had to pick one Trappist beer that sums up your band, which would it be and why?

I’m not the biggest beer nerd in the band (I mostly just drink them), but I would have to say the Westvleteren 12. Goddamn, it’s delicious and bold and I wish I had another one right now.

What future plans do you guys have with the band?

We’ll be heading to the east coast in November for a few shows. Trying to get over to Europe as well as Japan next year. Already writing new stuff so we’re not going away anytime soon.

Cover image press image by Paul Lee

Underground Sounds: Ifernach – IV. Gaqtaqaiaq

Label: Nekrart Productions
Band: Ifernach
Origin: Canada

Our ancestry is often a source of pride our base of how we identify ourselves. But sometimes, it can be a cause of strive, of clashing entities. It would seem that this is at the base of what has become Ifernach. A band that looks to consolidate the Celtic and Mi’kmaq heritage in fierce black metal on this EP ‘Gaqtaqaiaq’.

Ifernach has released a series of records and though it is a solo project by Finian Patraic, has also been playing some bold live shows where knife-wielding and bloodletting appear to be a big part. Also interested in the style of corpse paint, which appears to evoke images of the native cultures of the land emulated in the music.

After a classical sounding intro, which sets the mood in bombastic tones, we move to ‘Extinction’. An eerie song with melancholic, twangy guitars and gritty, primitive sounding black metal. The vocals are also snapping, biting and raw, conveying the lyrics in French. The sound is eerie, strangely dissonant as if it comes from a different realm. In a way, it does of course. The punky beat meats intricate melodies on ‘Coeur boréal et païen’, creating an enigmatic track.

The guitar mesmerizes me constantly on this record, by invoking a kind of magic. It’s the alienness of the music, the strange different vibe it creates that sets Ifernach so apart. Yet, mostly what you hear is the sound of rebellion on a tune like ‘Elle Danse Avec La Mort’. Repetitive riffing, grooving bass and a thick palette of grimy, grinning anger, here you go. It hardly compares to the gnashing ‘Un Matin Fénien’, with a true menace to the riff.

We end the record with a traditional jam, yet even this sound ghostly and distant. It’s just out of touch with our reality, somewhere lurking in the wild. That is the spirit, captured by Ifernach.

An Alpine Experience with Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner

We drive up to the Hotel Der Paternwirt, for our gathering. A total of 20 contest winners from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands are meeting up for their hike in the Alps with alpinist legend Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner. Joining us are two very excited Schöffel staff members, who are tasked with capturing this event and arranging the trip to go smoothly. I’ve traveled from my home in the Netherlands all the way to Maria Luggau, for I wouldn’t miss this for the world. The group is diverse, with climbers, hikers with much or little experience. Yet, one thing brings them together and that is a love for the outdoors and the mountains.

The beautiful Lesachtal is the start of our journey and on the porch of the hotel we are handed our gear for the weekend: a complete outfit of Schöffel test clothing made for the most demanding circumstances up in the mountains. After a quick fitting and freshening up, we join for dinner. But first some local music by our bergführer Mario Lugger and his two children. It instantly sets the mood and a moment later, excited voices resound over a glass of Austrian wine and a fine three-course dinner. Soon, the gathered group starts heading for bed, because breakfast is served at 6.45 and at 7.30 our adventure begins. Our Alpine Experience (and for me, my very first)…

Meeting our mountaineering icon

During the early breakfast, Gerlinde joins us. Having just finished her book (‘Mountains in my Heart’, the English translation) last night, I find myself staring for a moment. As she casually joins the company with a cup of tea and her breakfast plate, I go through her background. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner started out as a nurse, but her passion for climbing brought her to new heights in climbing the great peaks of this world. Making great sacrifices for her dream, she became a professional mountaineer and the first woman to climb all 8,000+ peaks, without supplemental oxygen. A feat, that sets you apart as an athlete and human. But here she is, dining among us mortals and making everyone feel perfectly at ease with her warm words and friendly smile. She is, however, the first person ready to go. Packed up to start into the mountains and see this part of her native country for the first time on the Karnischer Höhenweg.

Frisch und froh

We seem to be a whole group of morning persons! As the buses depart for our starting point, my watch switches to 7.31. It will turn out to be this way for the whole trip and due to its smooth organization and the efforts of all my fellow travelers, it’ll be the last time I check for the time. As we arrive down in the valley we stand in the shadow of the mighty Alps. The rock face is kissed by the early morning sun rays and though the air is cold, the sky is clear as we start walking.

Bergführer Jan at the front, and Mario at the back, herding the group towards the Hochweißsteinhaus. Eagerly we stop to take pictures of ourselves and each other. “Can you take a picture of my kids?” my fellow Dutch participant asks. Her two sons came along for the ride and are waving at us from the distance, going on their own adventure. Apples rarely fall far, do they? Our guides check up on us often, but so do Tereza and Miriam from Schöffel, who are as happy as any of us to be out here. The slogan of the outdoor brand really comes alive in them. “Ich bin raus”, and all is well!

 

 

Warming up at the Hochweißsteinhaus

After a sturdy climb, we see a hut emerge on the top of the hill. At the Hochweißsteinhaus, we are received with hot tea or fresh drinks. We enjoy the moment as the sunrays come over the edges of the heights and start providing additional warmth. It’s a moment to take some pictures of the beautiful valley below us, but this is just a short break and after gathering our lunch packages from the hut, we get ready to depart. The mood has become quite jolly and the shot of schnaps at our departure gives us the courage to continue the steep ascent as we shake innkeepers hands.

That it’s not just a lovely stroll in nature becomes clear soon, as Jan and Mario tell us about the history of the region and the fierce fighting that took place here during the first world war. “More people died in climbing accidents than in actual fighting!”, Mario informs us with his by now familiar smile and penchant for jokes. It’s not the last bit of history we’ll hear of or will see as we cross the border into the Italian Alps.

Up and up and up

We pass through thick pine forests, over wind-blown hills and rough, pebble-strewn paths. As we get used to the peace and quiet, we are suddenly shocked by the sound of engines as a group of trail bikers approach us. There are many ways to enjoy the mountain, but in general the quiet is what our group of walkers enjoys most. It is fascinating to learn what it means to be a bergführer here and that’s no walk in the park. An exceptional knowledge of the mountains, rescue techniques, flawless climbing skills and knowledge of nature and history, is what Mario describes. He forgets to mention a lot of humor, which he and his colleague display as often as possible. “But to be able to live in this paradise every day…”, one fellow traveler mutters, gazing up at the looming mountainside to our right as we approach our next ascent. This one turns out to be our most daunting yet and a good hour of climbing upwards leads us to a plateau from which we get the most stunning view as we enjoy our lunch. Many of us in silence and awe of our surroundings.

Meeting your heroes can be a good idea

As we start walking again after a sturdy lunch, Gerlinde falls in behind me: “Are you doing ok?” I answer that I am, but that I’m simply in awe of it all as this is my first Alpine experience. She looks taken aback for a moment. Our short chat is interrupted as another traveller starts talking to the Alpine legend and Schöffel ambassador, but a moment later as we stand still on the slopes of one of the peaks, gazing down at the peaceful lake below she says to me: “Beautiful isn’t it?”. I don’t know what to say and just nod. Sensing my discomfort she continues with the compliment that puts a spring in my step for the rest of the day: “Du steigst sehr gut!” You can bet that I’ll tell my mom that Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner said that to me! I continue the rest of our journey, including a steep descent and a rocky field, with all the motivation I need up till the point that we turn around a corner and see the Wolayerseehütte in front of us.

Like a joining of old friends

We are greeted by innkeeper Helmuth, who is a personality full of wit and energy, with an intensity that is hard to match. It turns out, that he and Mario are old friends, who meet Gerlinde in the basecamp of years ago. No wonder that our evening soon becomes a joyous occasion, reminiscing old stories and singing songs with Helmuth’s son Stefan contributing significantly. “So, was spricht man denn in Holland?”, Helmuth asks me. I explain it’s Dutch. “Ah, Flemish?”, he follows up. He’s pulling my leg, and not for the last time this evening.

The food is splendid and the facilities perfect for our company. No luxurious nonsense, but comfort and warmth, that’s all we need. A good glass of beer or wine makes this a remarkably pleasant evening, where we share and connect to each other. As we can’t connect to any wifi or mobile network, no phones are hampering our interaction and soon it feels like a night of meeting old friends instead of random travel companions. It’s hard to say at  what hour the singing actually ends.

Watching the sunrise in Italy

As we crossed the border back into Austria again yesterday, we are at the Wolayersee merely a few hundred meters away from the border. Since I’m up at 6.30, way before breakfast, I grab my Schöffel down jacket and pants and head out of the door of the still sleeping hütte and walk towards the border. A small stone with an ‘I’ and an ‘Ö’, marks the border and there I watch the sunrise. After a fulfilling breakfast, we leave ahead of time for our final hike of the day. Bergführer Jan enthusiastically shows us the rich geological formations and fossils in the rocks that are strewn in our path. Mario tells me about the sniper nests and barbed wire I see, which fills me with amazement about the ground I’m walking upon.

Saying goodbye to the mountains

The day is colder and in the shadows of the Alps we slowly descent towards our last stop on this journey. We see a group of climbers gearing up for the Klettersteig on the big walls here and on this part of the journey, we learn more about the climate changes and effect on this region. After a long descent, we arrive at Untere Valentinalm, where we are served a sturdy meal, made for mountaineers. Tired, but very happy, it’s a moment of smiles and exchanges as we enjoy the great food and company for a short while longer. Soon we’ll board the bus and head back to the hotel. I silently gaze out of the window at the peaks around us, as the bus navigates the narrow mountain roads.

As we say goodbye, Gerlinde tells me, what I already feel in my heart: “I hope you enjoyed this as much as I, but when I look at you I see you will be back here.”. She’s right, because how could I not fall in love with this beautiful region and the mighty mountains that fill its skyline.

Pictures are my own or provided kindly by Schöffel, who made this trip happen.  I’ve ventured to share no footage depicting others, but if you somehow feel you are unjustly displayed, let me know and I’ll remove it. Find out more about Gerlinde on her website.

Striborg: Unknown domains with Blackwave

Russel Menzies, known as Sin Nanna, lives on the fringe of the world in Tasmania, an Australian Island in case you’ve not heard of it. For years, he has created the most haunting, harrowing black metal with Striborg.

Moving into the DSBM genre later after making harrowing black metal for years, Striborg was part of the One Man Metal documentary by Vice, which explores the roots of his music (recommended material). Yet recently, he switched to a new sound he calls blackwave, an exploration that captures the soul of Striborg, cloaking it with new sounds.

As is always, the backlash was severe, yet I believe congratulations are in order for his musical efforts with ‘Instrumental Trans-Communication’ and ‘Blackwave’. In a genre that conflictedly embraces the freedom to explore and brings up rigid confines at the same time, it’s a bold statement that captures something essential of what this music genre could be.

I contacted the artist to ask him about blackwave and he was kind enough to respond.

Heading into the urban darkness

Which were the most ridiculous and best responses you’ve received? You’ve shared quite some online, with a note of self-mockery. Is that the easiest way to deal with this?
I guess the one that stands out the most is receiving 0% on Metal Archives. Thankfully that has now been removed. There has been a few negative responses from people who just aren’t open-minded enough to understand what it is that I am doing nowadays.
However, I have also had mostly positive and encouraging feedback for my new direction in which I truly appreciate no end too.
My self-mockery is merely a reflection of my own depression and disappointment that my blackwave music hasn’t really taken off or been fully accepted.

Striborg hails from a deep, very pure and essentialist black metal past. You’ve released albums that are hailed as absolute life-changing classics by many. In order to really place your latest efforts in perspective, can you take me through your creative past on a level of perhaps creative phases, like do you see a continuation or are there definite ‘periods’ in your work?
I think you can define Striborg into 3 eras, the black metal period, the DSBM stage and blackwave. It is a natural progression / evolution for Striborg.

Blackwave is, as you’ve voiced, an attempt to go somewhere new. At the same time a certain black metal-postrock hybrid (blackgaze) is here to stay. It seems that this journey you took was entirely free of outside influences, as is the music. Where did the transition start? Do you feel any connection on the musical level with any others?
Blackgaze is huge but I just can’t relate to it personally. I wanted to do something in a different direction with synths as opposed to guitars, hence… blackwave.

I had an epiphany to create this music, July 2017. You’ll need to read my interview with Invisible Oranges for further insight. A long story short, I was listening to some darkwave music and imagined what it would be like if you took it to the next level. What it would sound like if I mixed my years of BM experience with a completely different genre, boom! Blackwave. I felt this rush consume me, a revelation like I’ve never felt before. I draw influence/inspiration from darkwave artists amongst other musical styles too and a long love of 80’s synth pop.

I draw absolutely no inspiration from any black metal or black gaze bands for creating BW, this is why there is so much difference and your average metalhead is like… WTF? It must be said that the same feeling and atmosphere of Striborg is STILL present so why do people obsessively need to hear guitars?

‘Instrumental Trans-Communication’ feels like a hybrid album, a musical bridge towards ‘Blackwave’. Was it intended in that way or is it simply the formative process of this sound?
This is where you have a much better perspective of ITC and B over how I perceive them. Nothing was intended with the exception that ITC was just a starting point and Blackwave needed to exist to expand and define this new genre? Additionally, I felt like adding more content and detail to Blackwave using a ‘wall of sound’ production.

How much is nature still a part of your inspiration on ‘Blackwave’, or have we left the forest completely behind on this release? You’ve mentioned that the essence of the sound is to you the same, can you elaborate on that? I feel I do hear something new too, and I wonder if that how that is for you.
I feel this new direction works well either in a rural or urban environment.

To be honest the forests have been done to death. I sing about mental illness and personal struggles more so nowadays and I have an obsession with anything luminous or dark concrete settings like multi-car parks at night and how cold and mysterious they look when lit up with UV lighting, especially when empty. Blackwave music suits forested areas too, wandering in the moonlight.

Over recent days, you’ve been putting some of your older work out on Bandcamp for people to explore anew, like Cromlech, Veil of Darkness, Baalphegor, and Mondas. Having done so much, how do you look at this work now and is there any project we may see you continue in the future?
I’m rather fond of Krucifior / Baalphegor / Azimuth. I have great memories of the time I was in the group. There are other projects I will unleash soon. The only side project I intend to continue with is Veil of Darkness. I have purposely not been prolific with that project. I could actually record an album every week if I wanted to

What is the next step for Striborg and blackwave? You just released ‘Spktr’, which was done with the Australian Art Orchestra. Are you aiming for more projects like this in the future?
The recording of Spktr on Bandcamp doesn’t feature the AAO. I will be collaborating with them again next year for another live performance (not recording). This is for Mona again by their request.

Mona have been good to me and the AAO people are a pleasure to work with. I have briefly returned to BM for an upcoming split (I agreed to it 10 years ago).

My next blackwave album will be entitled ‘Leave the World Behind’. The title is not what you think it means, as in suicide, quite the opposite in fact. Forget your troubles and leave the world behind, overcome your struggles and carpe diem, seize the day! Start living!! Or it can mean the former too, an ambiguous title / double entendre.

Images courtesy of Striborg