Like always, a Triple Feature is meant to be a place where we can jot down thoughts about releases that otherwise might not evoke many words in our brains. This month, I offer thoughts on three albums that are rock solid, but may just miss be something extraordinary. Of course, this is completely subjective. Read on to hear about Mirratal, On The Raw, and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard.
Sometimes, you just need some straightforward metal. Ukrainian band Mirratal offers exactly that. Their new album “Castaway” released on the 30th of January. The band consists of Igor Roshenets on vocals and bass; Sergii Stygar on guitar; Andrii Pavlenko on keys; and Sergii Ivanov on drums.
The music here is melodic metal with some progressive tendencies. You’ll hear lots of blast beats, growling guitars, and gigantic vocals. It is mixed without much oomph, which I feel could have added so much more to the music, but there is still some edge to be found here. The catchiness factor is pretty high, too, and there are many wonderful guitar and synth solos to be found. You will also notice some talk-singing that reminds me of Daniel Gildenlöw of Pain of Salvation.
The album overall is rock solid. Though it never explores too vividly the lands that I think it could, it still offers catchy choruses, strong soloing, and tight production. There are definitely sweet moments scattered throughout the album.
My favorite songs are “Abyss of Lunacy”, which has a wonderfully majestic opening and an awesome synth solo near the end that always gets me; “Poison”, a great song with a fantastic guitar solo; and “Castaway”, which has some stunning moments featuring guitars contrasted against keys. The album is a good one that deserves your attention.
I was a fan of the debut from Spanish band On The Raw back in 2017. “Big City Awakes” had so much character and depth, especially for a first offering. The band is back with “Climbing the Air”, which released on the 1st of March. The band consists of Alex Ojea on drums, Jordi Amela on keys, Jordi Prats on guitar, Pep Espasa on sax and flute, and Toni Sànchez on bass.
On The Raw is jazz fusion, pure and simple. Of course, that is anything but “simple”. The band plays instrumental jazz rock that features all sorts of atmospheric touches, pulsating bass lines, great drumming, and squirrely keyboard passages. You’ll hear lots of saxophone, as they do not hold it back, and I really like that. The music has oodles of sass, urbanity, and class.
I will say that this album seems less focused than the debut, and does feel like it has less character. There are lots of musical ideas at play, and many of them seem squashed together without much guidance or transition. Some of the songs are way too long, and so filler enters the picture. The title track, for instance, is only just shy of 9 minutes long. That isn’t all that long in the progressive world, but this song just seemingly won’t end while you are hearing it. It starts really well, and ends up wandering way too much.
As a result, picking favorite tracks is difficult because there are portions of each song that are really strong, but portions that are not so strong. I would probably label “Red Roses” and “Moneypenny” as the best, though. The former is a great song with just the right length. The emphasis on flute is refreshing, and the lush yet casual sax and guitar feel great. The latter is exactly what you think it is. It’s a classy, sexy track with lots of snapping fingers and luxurious bass lines. Overall, this is an enjoyable album with some moments that drag a bit too much, but it is definitely worth a look if you love instrumental prog.
Some bands really know how to garner attention. Obviously, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard has that skill in spades. Their new album “Yn Ol I Annwn” released on the 1st of March. The band consists of Jessica Ball on vocals, Paul Michael Davies and Wez Leon on guitars, Stuart Sinclair on bass, and James Carrington on drums.
MWWB crosses electronica with doom, simply put. The music is gritty, riff-heavy, and spacey. It feels ethereal and muddy at the same time. It seems a pretty difficult thing to achieve both light and sludge simultaneously, but this band as done that.
However, the results aren’t quite as satisfying as I’d hoped. The album gets a bit too doomy for its own good in the second half, resorting to plenty of low key chugging without really ever going anywhere. Half of the songs on the album are way too long for their own good, getting lost in their own chugging without ever offering anything new. Many of the songs could have been cut in half to greater results.
The one-two punch of “Tralfamadore” plus “The Spaceships of Ezekiel” starts the album strongly. In fact, the latter might be one of my favorite songs of the year thus far. There is just something about Jessica’s vocals mixed with heavy riffs and electronica. It works well, but then goes south from there. As the album progresses, standout moments become increasingly difficult to spot. “The Majestic Clockwork” is a good song that offers plenty of accents and tonal shifts, though, and I also like “Five Days in the Abyss”, which ends the album with plenty of atmosphere. Overall, I like where this band is going, but I don’t think they’ve arrived yet. I do imagine, though, that this music would make for a fantastic live show.
Find Mirratal online:
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