We first came upon the grungy swashbucklers from Trapdoor after they dropped a devilish single named Holy Truth. Red-blooded and emboldened by rough sacrilege, their thunderous attitude was straight-away addictive.
Their Bison EP extends that spirit across a six song track list, a teething and explosive release with a finger on the self-destruct button.
Hard, heavy and heartbroken, Trapdoor played it very close to the chest with their destructive Bison EP.
Holy Truth sits pretty as the second track on Bison, its familiar overdriven hooks pounding through your veins like a fifth of bourbon taken too quickly. It’s where to start if you’re unfriendly to Trapdoor’s stylings, making for a perfect distillation of what makes their tunes so formidable.
Heavy blues is the game for these ragged minstrels, and this track’s underlying feeling of decrepitude and fervent witchcraft settles it firmly into the band’s established niche.
Why then, was Holy Truth not employed as an opener to the EP, given its stark face value?
Possibly because the actual opener, a rolling hymn named Hi Ho Silver and Gold, is in such contrast to Trapdoor’s status quo. More sea shanty than tattered ballad, it’s the kind of ramble which sounds like it’s been strained through sand and salt instead of a Blues Driver.
It’s actually one of the strongest tracks on the record, naturally standing out thanks to a slower starting pace, a righteous build-up into the meat of the album, and an especially zealous performance from Tim Appleby on vox.
It’s easy to picture the band at the helm of some great rustic frigate, preaching this track to a horde of rowers amongst a roaring monsoon. The tempo builds as Hi Ho Silver and Gold reaches paramount vivacity, a frenetic guitar solo shooting through the mix before the song slows one last time, levelling out like seawater after a storm.
Madeline once again shows Trapdoor’s enthusiasm for tempo shifts, the verses being nigh impossible to make out lyrically while the choruses are simple, sluggish roars of “My Madeline!”
It feels like there’s an anger coming through the track, it’s the kind of love song brimming with regressive rage rather than soppy adoration. Maybe the lyrics are too fast because Appleby doesn’t want Madeline to know exactly what he’s saying about her?
The deeper you dive into Bison, the deeper you come to appreciate the vision with which Trapdoor treated the release. When we spoke to the band last December, they mentioned a dedication to the sonic techniques of yesteryear, especially an appreciation for live tracking and the goal of creating something timeless.
And it fucking shines through with the strength of a spotlight, despite the bluesy grime splattered throughout Bison. The dual guitars from James Barnes and Talis Letts are chunkier than a porridge vomit; a proper, stadium-filling noise with enough attitude to corrode heavy metal.
The eponymous EP closer Bison cemented this for me. Everything learned on the record comes through in this track; epic, chronicling lyrics tear over the instrumentation, which in itself is unspeakable effective. A neverending percussive backup from Baidon Howell drives the song start to finish, taking a back seat only to make room for the brutal riffs at the heart of the piece.
It brings a snarl to your face. Trapdoor are Led Zeppelin without the screeching vocals of Robert Plant, steeped in fanaticism and a penchant for the legends of old. Bison is a ripper of a record any blues or hard rock fan should get around.
Go on, blast your face off.
An EP made to sound like it’s blasting through an amp bigger than your fridge, Bison is certainly something best seen live. The Trapdoor boys are on tour at the moment, hitting venues across the east coast and Adelaide. Catch their run of shows below, and head to their Facebook page for the finer points.
Fri 17 Mar – Currumbin Pub – Gold Coast
Sat 18 Mar – Captain Cook Hotel – Sydney
Fri 24 Mar – Rhino Room – Adelaide
Sun 26 Mar – Gas Light Tavern – Adelaide
Sat 1 Apr – Miami Shark Bar – Gold Coast
Sat 15 Apr – Currimundi Hotel – Sunshine Coast