TWO CD REVIEWS IN ONE . . .
maudlin of the Well - Bath / Leaving Your Body Map (Dark Symphonies) I was completely blown away by these albums the first hearing - it's a mix of ambient atmospherics and harsh black-ish metal and everything in between seemed wholly unique and truly visionary. Now since I've discovered bands like Ulver and Sigh, well, maudlin of the Well still blow me away. Sure, they aren't the only band playing truly innovative metal music, but they're among the best and just as distinctive as the previously mentioned groups. Part of motW's unique sound come from their immense variety of instrumentation. The CD insert lists 8 musicians, but even that doesn't seem to fully account for all the sounds heard on this disc. There are at least two guitars, bass, drums, synths, church organ, piano, saxophone, various brass, strings, and of course clean, rasped, and growled male and female vocals - in many ways motW are sort of a Godspeed You Black Emperor! of metal. The GYBE! reference is also appropriate in describing their dynamic range - these guys can play softer and louder than almost any of their contemporaries. Interestingly, maudlin seems unusually comfortable in the middle range, unlike a lot of symphonic black metal bands who simply juxtapose 'extreme' and 'pretty' passages. One of maudlin's greatest strengths is the way they can crescendo to loud, heavy passages, although they use plenty of abrupt transitions as well, but quite intelligently. However, maudlin of the Well differ significantly from Godspeed You Black Emperor! in that their songs don't make significant use of continuously building ostinatos. For me this is a great plus, since occasionally GYBE! come dangerously close to sounding like a really depressed jam band when they play the same thing over and over. Maudlin of the Well make me feel like I'm listening to well-thought-out compositions. The only thing I can really fault maudlin of the Well for is their curious decision (or perhaps their label's decision?) to split what is obviously a single work into two separate albums. While Bath seems on the whole slightly more pastoral (at times songs approach ballads, except without the cheese factor) and Leaving Your Body Map more consistently aggressive, I think it would have made more sense to make it a double album or something like that. No one should buy one disc without the other, unless it's just to see if you like maudlin enough to get the half of their new work. Mark my words, maudlin of the Well are the new guys to watch in the metal world. Highly, highly recommended. ~ Jon Murphree ~ HAVE A LISTEN TO THIS BAND: SOUND SAMPLES
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