Thursday, April 26, 2012
MARES OF THRACE - The Pilgrimage CD review
MARES OF THRACE - The Pilgrimage CD
Sonic Unyon Metal
This release is a perfect example on how a decent producer can turn an average sounding band into something decent albeit formulated. On their 2010 debut, The Moulting, this Calgary noisy doomish duo sounded like a crusty band trying to jump on the second wave NEU-ISIS sludge bandwagon. My own not so humble opinion aside it supposedly garnered critical acclaimed, more on that one later. Now the same band goes into the studio with producer Sanford Parker, gets slightly cleaned up and heavily built up to create this sophomore release. The fact is that The Pilgrimage is a much better release by far. On a whole it's a sludgey pummeling paired up with fierce ambiance that holds your attention as well as balances the release out until you realize you've heard this (aka: two piece sludge bands) plenty of times in the past three to four years. I constantly read opinions by interweb scribes (aka: the critics) on how they see certain genres stagnating by the sheer amount of repetition as opposed to progressiveness. Almost all of their targets fall in with bands in the black metal, death metal and thrash genres. Technically that's fine because it's just their opinion and the opposite feeling is that fans tend to relate better with familiar sounds. I'm part of the latter opinion. One thing you don't see is the same critical balance when it comes to sludge rock. In this band's case their sound and style is as familiar to me as the back of my hand and I review 90% of the same releases as the major interweb critics.
Now before I go even further with that last point lets give MARES OF THRACE the credit they at least deserve. You just can't ignore the coolness of Therese Lanz's vocals especially when that feral feline type shriek, like on "The Gallwasp", "The Goat Thief" and "The Perpetrator", erupts forth. Most of the time she's screaming in a deep gruff pitch or adding clean haunting vocals. As far as this duo's sound goes having a modified baritone guitar with an added bass pickup gives Lanz's' playing an extra violent kick of heaviness as well as a darker tone when strumming melodically. Drummer Stef MacKichan's playing is a cross between follow Lanz's lead and pound away to more of a jazz inspired playing when given room to do so. The release itself is split into three distinct parts and based on a dirty biblical story (aka: from the bible, a book I'm sure you've heard about) of King David and Bathsheba. The first part is the heavy section with the second expanding to more diverse noise accents. It's the third part on here where the duo breaks into more noise doom dissidence like on "The Three-Legged Courtesan" and the over eight minute closer.
Overall I think The Pilgrimage is a decent sludge band release simply because I listened to it half a dozen times and didn't pay attention to their promo photos. Now we're getting back to my earlier point which will result in emails from wussies who hate when I editorialize in a review. I got this in to review right when it was released although I did have the pleasure of reading plenty of promos which included quotes from individual print and interweb scribes. I also checked out two interviews, one print and the other radio podcast. I just can't get away from the suspicion that some people in the music media, especially the indie rockers who now like metal contingent, base their praise more on this duo's looks than the music. Just looking at some of the hype you would think there's a collective genuflect going on. Granted most hipsters are used to the vintage clothing dressed, femi-nazi, hairy armpit-ed barrista look when it comes to the women they hang around with or see on stage. Along comes MARES OF THRACE and their objectivity falls by the waist side, literally. Personally I think this band deserves better than that. It is 2012 and this ain't high school. Nuff Said.