Whenever Mariusz Duda announces a new musical project, I obviously get a little giddy. Duda’s Riverside is my favorite band and Lunatic Soul isn’t far behind, either. Honestly, Duda is my favorite musician. But I wanted to be as objective as possible when it was announced that he is collaborating in the new trio Meller Gołyźniak Duda. I wanted to approach a review for the debut, called “Breaking Habits”, as if this were any other band.
Right out the gate, it’s best to know that this is a much different musical experience than any Riverside or Lunatic Soul album. It’s completely and utterly different. This trio is much more of a rock ‘n roll experience and much more intense on a brisk technical level. If I had to break it down, “Breaking Habits” is like a combination of classic rock and math rock with progressive and psychedelic trappings, plus a little 70’s grooviness thrown in for good measure. It really does seem like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath are very influential here, more than the Pink Floyd and 80’s influences of Riverside.
Am I okay with this? Absolutely! I went into this album having only heard the first single “Feet on the Desk”. It had a bassier, groovier, almost noir feel to it that I wasn’t expecting. I honestly wasn’t sure what I’d think of the whole album. “Breaking Habits”, though, has come through as a breath of fresh air. It feels quite different than most of what I listen to on a regular basis, and I love that.
The trio includes Mariusz Duda on bass, Maciej Gołyźniak on drums, and Maciej Meller on guitar. It quite feels like the point of this musical endeavor is to be as raw and real as possible. The music certainly comes across that way, as it lacks the overly polished, pristine quality of many recent releases. It is instead a collaboration among friends that want to play good music together, and you can feel that grit and sweat from beginning to end.
The performances are obviously top notch. Duda’s bass work is a rumbling, tumbling machine of epicness. He’s one of my favorite bassists simply because he tries to craft interesting bass lines, not just technical ones. His work on this album is pretty much some of the best I’ve heard this year. Meller’s guitar has that steely, hardened edge; and it comes in handy because you can hear him do all sorts of high-strung tricks and soundscapes just with his guitar. There are lots of sliding scales and drawn out notes and the like, and it makes for a roller coaster ride of sorts. Lastly, Gołyźniak is excellent on drums, keeping in step with Duda’s bass, and providing the math feeling I get on some tracks. His sound is full and very acoustic. Both his drums and Duda’s bass are mixed excellently into the overall sound, so that everyone is heard clearly and completely.
Duda’s vocals are obviously amazing, like always, but his sound is different here. He has a much brighter, more upbeat tone; much more rock ‘n roll, and maybe a little playful, too. There’s less in the way of inflection and more in the way of clean, crisp vocal melodies. His accent also comes through much more, rending his performance quite distinct among his other work that I have heard. Duda really shows that he can craft some very catchy lines throughout the album.
So far, my favorite tracks are the more delicate tone of “Shapeshifter”, the instrumental title track “Breaking Habits” (which for some reason reminds me of the “28 Days Later” soundtrack at points), the super sweet groove of “Tattoo”, and the intensity of “Into the Wild”. It’s important to understand that this is a no frills albums. These musicians just wanted to get together and play something cool, and that is exactly the sound that has resulted. It comes across as a jam session in some of the instrumentals (and there are lots of instrumentals), but the melodies and choruses are catchy as they come, so it does not feel like a big, unplanned mess.
So, Meller Gołyźniak Duda is a complete success. This album has suddenly and unexpectedly become something of a minor obsession for me. It really scratches the itch I didn’t even know I had. It has plenty of thrills to be had with its saucy grooves, tense guitars, and rumbling rhythm section; and you can hear every bit of it clear as day. With its bright choruses and darker verses, “Breaking Habits” proves to be a well-rounded, excellent addition to our year in prog. Go buy it.
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