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Album Review

Three Trapped Tigers – Silent Earthling

Three Trapped Tigers - Silent Earthling

Tigers prove themselves to be one of the best instrumental bands in the world.

Label: Superball Music
Released: 1st April 2016

Rating: ★★★★

It would be fair to say that this album has been long-awaited. Between administrative issues and a crazy touring schedule that took in a European tour with Deftones, Three Trapped Tigers have plenty of reasons to excuse them the delay – but for fans hopped up on their debut ‘Route One Or Die’ the question is, has the wait been worth it? After all, good reasons notwithstanding, if those same kids were also going to And So I Watch You From Afar shows on the ‘Gangs’ tour, they will have had two new albums since from the Irish rockers.

At its heart, ‘Silent Earthling’, named in reference to one of Marty McFly’s lines from ‘Back to the Future’ is an evolution, not a revolution of the sound Tigers went for on ‘Route One Or Die’. This time around, it’s less of a ‘live’ sounding rock record, and more of a studio arrangement, as can be heard on tracks like the opener and title track, or ‘Tekkers’, but that doesn’t mean it has become sterile. The swirling ‘Strebek’ and angular ‘Engrams’ retain Tigers’ driving rock force, while toward the latter end of the record the band cut loose on upbeat ‘Rainbow Road’, drummer Adam Betts exploding out of the gate like he’s been waiting for his moment all album. His other standout performance is on the more mid-tempo offering ‘Kraken’, where he perfectly counterpoints the dense and busy guitar and synth lines with intricate yet groovy drum licks and ornamentations.

The album highlight, however, is ‘Blimp’, which manages to go from low-key crossover atmospheric with electronic undertones to synth-driven feel-good melodic riff fest by its climax. The riffs at its peak are so major-key, it’s surprising they can also be as heavy as they are, but it’s classic Tigers, focussing on melody, timbre and arrangement to deliver their message and not being forced into specific harmonic choices just for the sake of effect.

There’s no track as crazy as ‘Cramm’ on ‘Silent Earthling’; nor, reasonably could one expect there to be – but that’s probably a good thing, as this album doesn’t feel overshadowed by any of its individual tracks, as potentially Route One Or Die was. ‘Silent Earthling’ is instead a coherent and worthy successor that’s never boring and often pleasantly surprising; no doubt it will reaffirm Tigers as one of the best instrumental bands in the world. Alex Lynham