Album Review: Three Trapped Tigers – ‘Route One or Die’

Context… context is important to a review.  To set the scene.  I am ironing.  Not just any ironing.  This is ironing on the scale of the conquest of Everest.  If and when I finish I will be honoured to the highest level.  I expect a telegram from the Queen!!!

I choose to listen to an album by Three Trapped Tigers called “Route One or Die”.  First things first.  These guys can play their instruments.  They are serious cats dude!  Trapped cats!  Ha ha!  But do these cats emit the sound of a trapped cat?  Or, more importantly, three trapped cats?  For that would be a bad, bad sound!!!

There are times during this album when it sounds like the band are just about to fall off the stage.  A cacophonous riot of avant-garde destruction almost on par with Explosions in the Sky at their noisiest.  I expect the aforementioned band is an influence, for this is fundamentally a ‘post-rock project’.  Post rock as a tag often puts fear into my heart.  It is a style of music which appears to have no boundaries… and yet has given itself a very tightly fenced garden in the process.  Crashing drums – check.  ’70s prog rock keyboards – check.  Manic guitar strums – check.  No vocals – check.  “Route One or Die” dwells within this garden… very safely in this garden.  The three tigers are caged in this garden.

So… as I iron another t-shirt (how may t-shirts should a man have?)… I listen intently.  I am not au fait with post rock really.  I have tinkered on its outskirts… I have driven the car by, wound down the window and breathed in the stale post-apocalyptic air.  But I have only stayed momentarily.  I enjoy the extreme drumming, almost thrash drumming in fact.  This album is at times as heavy as Metallica, sometimes even hitting Napalm Death levels of explosive noise.  The final track, Reset, is one of these moments… after it is done emulating the melody of Spinal Tap‘s Stonehenge it spanks us hard with absolutely astonishing drumming.  Adam Betts (I believe) hits those drums as if his pants depend on it.  Incredible.

Throughout the album I am reminded of other bands.  Sometimes hints… sometimes slaps in the face.  I hear Yes in the arpeggios of the keyboards.  I hear Joe Satriani in the melodies.  I hear Explosions in the Sky in the quietLOUDquietness of it all.  I hear War of the WorldsTubular Bells, DJ Shadow … I hear the 80’s TV programme Tripods.  I hear fantastic musicianship.  The drums are indeed the standout.  Sheer power.  This album is bringing my walls down.  Manic, threatening, belligerent racket!

The album opens with a ‘song’ called Cramm.  This track sums the band up perfectly adequately.  If you like it then sit back and enjoy the rest.  If you think it sounds like a noisy baby, trapped in a metal dustbin being rolled down the steps of a lighthouse then feel free to chuck the album straight in the nearest canal!  Ha ha!

I like the scope… I like the interest brought about by the timing changes.  This band has finesse, coupled with the ability to switch gears in an instant.  When this band hits the ‘heavy’ switch you honestly feel like Chicken Licken waiting for the sky to fall on your head.  Again… I think the drums are incredible.  This is noise rock… but it could almost be categorised as a new era heavy metal rather than the electronic tag it’s usually filed under.  These are real people playing real instruments and they absolutely slay!  Massive. I would like vocals, more than just a few ahhs on the final track.  I appreciate this style of music exists only without a vocalist, but I think it would be interesting to break a section of that garden fence.  Or at least let one of the three tigers dig a small tunnel beneath it.

This is heavy, demanding, intelligent music that drives home a good ironing session.  I am ironing faster than ever before!  Music for ironing?  Yes.

A score.  Hmmm.  This is a post rock noise album.  And it does what it says on the tin.  So… probably a straight 5/10.  But I like the drums.  I like the stutters.  And most importantly… my kitten is loving it!!!  Extra point!  If the tigers had given me a couple of lyrical themes they might have got another point.  But hey… 6 is bloody good! As I keep saying ad nauseum, I’m fed up with the 7-10 point scale.  Use all ten bloody numbers people!

Three Trapped Tigers – Route One or Die: 6/10

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