Mares Of Thrace - The Moulting
2010, Arctodus Records
Stripped down and violent, detuned and hauntingly beautiful, melodic yet chokingly dense and constantly bristling with rythmical intricacies and passionate, raging guitar work, The Moulting is an intriguing album. I found it rather by chance, surfing the shallow depths of these interwebs, and I'm really glad I did. Being a duo, Mares Of Thrace consists of only a drummer and a guitarist, and it blows my mind that two people can create both such an intense, almost frenzied sludgy atmosphere and such sonic complexities and yet manage to bring to it such devastatingly beautiful textures. Their music reminds me alot of other very stripped-down-to-the-bone kind of bands, who also utilize alot of winding, sometimes dissonant or melancholy melodies and rythmical complexities in their writing; bands like fellow Canadians Nomeansno, Jesus Lizard and of course Black Sabbath (Ward's jazzy drumming, the somber, melancholy melodies of both Geezer and Tony Iommi have always had a swampy kind of blues-feel to me).
There is an impressive amount of detail to be found in the music as well, be it the often deceptively technical drumming of Stef MacKichan, the brief but constant melodic colorings thrown into Therese Lanz's often densely heavy riffs or the intermingling flurries of electronics thrown into the mix. There's enough metal here to warrant a 'metal' label on the Mares' music, but there's more to it than that, of course. Having done stints in loads of other musical constellations - Exit Strategy, Kilbourne and KEN Mode among them - these ladies know the ins and outs of the heavier, extreme styles of music like the backs of their hands. This means there are huge doses of other influences than just mere metal at work here. There's an obvious jazzy, winding noiserock (I fucking hate that word) feel to much of their music, but there are also monumental, tribal influences going on here, along the lines of Isis or Neurosis, where dense, melodic riffs, driven by awesome, primal, warlike rythms shatter everything in their path. And ontop of everything else there's also a visceral snarling punk attitude coating everything, adding yet another layer of ferocity to the music. Therese's emotionally charged vocals, sometimes sung in a clean voice, more often screamed in a deep, resonant, growl (how the hell does she do that?) are hugely impressive and tend to work rather as an added layer of instrumentation than a mere conveyor for platitudinal inanities. It's not always easy to decipher the lyrics, and though I'm convinced they're just as well-written as the music, it doesn't really bother me not knowing what she's singing. The music as a whole is so impressive and emotional the lyrical content becomes less of a concern to me. I'm really looking forward to the Mares' upcoming album, The Pilgrimage, where they hopefully have expanded on the musical ideas and themes on The Moulting. Watch the live clips below if you need any further convincing.