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Maudlin Of The Well - Bath CD (album) cover

BATH

Maudlin Of The Well

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.17 | 210 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Roundabot
5 stars First released on: riversofreverb.blogspot.dk

Maudlin of the Well is an avant-garde metal band from Boston that in the late 90's and first years of the 2000's released some of the most intriguing and thought-provoking music in the metal genre and beyond. Their songs, allegedly composed through astral projections and lucid dreams, are some of the most inspiring and interesting material in contemporary music. In 2001 the band released separately two albums that were supposed to be part of a double album. Lead by Toby Driver, the music this band displays in these two albums is some of the most delightfully original of the new century. Bath is the first one, and it shows Toby Driver peaking as a songwriter displaying some of his best material.

What this album manages to do is induce the listener into a state of full consciousness, in which he can experience the tremendous beauty and the extreme horror of life and the universe, all at the same time. As complex in structure as some of these songs are, they are all extremely enjoyable compositions, and each one has elements that are very rewarding. It doesn't disregard the listener in the name of experimentation as avant-garde music sometimes does; instead it invites the listener in with sublimely dynamic passages and gorgeous melodies.

The album opens with The Blue Ghost / Shedding Qliphoth; its atmospheric intro leads the listener to a dreamlike state, with just a few guitar picks and melodies that give an ethereal feel to the song. As the acoustic guitar follows, we are already inside the world of this outstanding album. The piece builds up adding more and more instruments to the basic electric guitar picks that we listened to in the beginning. It slowly transforms into an ambient/jazz piece including a clarinet and an acoustic guitar. Finally it blasts into a climax, with an electric guitar playing the melody of the acoustic guitar over some heavy riffs. It is a great introduction to the world of this album.

The other face of Maudlin of the Well is shown in the next song, They aren't all Beautiful, a very heavy and evil track, full of anger, despair and bitterness. The vocals are extremely aggressive, and fit the lyrics perfectly. It then enters into a slower dynamic with some delicate guitar interludes in between the heavy, faster sections. It segues into a brutal jam with odd tempos and great musicianship, showing probably the greatest asset of this band, how they can make a song seamlessly flow through very different moods with outstanding craftsmanship. The song has a brutal outro with the vocals coming back with the same anger-ridden energy.

After this sort of introduction to the two sides of the band, the songs that follow are more of a mix between the heavy and the lavish. Heaven and Weak for example opens with a soft guitar intro again with jazz elements mixed with ethereal synths and vocals. As the guitars get heavier the song enters a rockier segment that has a doomy restrained feel. Then everything suddenly breaks loose as a blast of guitars takes the song into metal territory again. The duality shown in this song alone is archetypical of maudlin of the Well's sound in this album. The first of four interludes spread through the two albums comes after this track. It is a beautiful and simple guitar piece that gives the listener a break after the intensity of the previous track.

Bath is also an emotional roller-coaster, as it can be appreciated in songs like The Ferryman, in which the listener is taken through various contrasting kinds of styles. Its eerie organ intro creates a horror movie atmosphere that then is overtaken by a jazzy interlude that works as the calm before the storm. Before we know it, the heaviness kicks in with death metal guitars and growls, but then the growls are replaced by a feminine operatic voice as the organ takes the forefront again. By now we are drown in the ghastly and bizarre world of this outstanding composition, as it finishes with what seems to be the lamentations of some weird moribund creatures.

This track segues into probably the song with which it contrasts the most, Marid's Gift of Art, the most straightforwardly beautiful track on Bath. It is simply one of the purest showcasings of sheer beauty I've ever listened to. It's such a delicate track with amazing musicianship, with the guitars working perfectly with the wind section to create a heavenly aura that fits the innocent bliss of the song wonderfully. This dynamic with a different approach continues in Girl with a Watering Can, with its superb clarinet intro. It features soulful vocals by both Maria-Stella Fountoulakis and Driver giving the song a captivating mystical quality. The end of the song takes us into a voyage into outer space, with a guitar solo that has an otherworldly sound.

Birth Pains of Astral Projections is the centerpiece of the album. It shows all the elements that make it the masterpiece it is, and is probably the better crafted song of the bunch. The intro shows the bands skillful abilities to create great jazz sections yet again. As the intro ends, we enter the death metal section with a fantastic guitar solo that gives way to the growling vocals that are in top form. The brutality of this part of the song is complemented by the outstanding guitars and the steady drums that keep the song in a strong and menacing pace. Driver's clean vocals take the stage again in the last third of the song, as it calms down again before the greatest guitar solo of the album is played, it is the climax of the album and it is probably its most rewarding moment.

Another interlude, this time a very jazzy piece that mixes bass, piano and acoustic guitar, precedes the final song of the album. Geography is a powerful sort of ballad. It is a mesmerizing track that keeps the listener interested on what direction it will take until its final blast that give the album a fitting and intense ending. The chorus section is especially beautiful and interesting, as it is sung by Driver with a great amount of emotion, probably his strongest vocal performance in the album. The acoustic guitar solo is just another highlight to add to an album full of outstanding guitar performances, showing again the great talent of these musicians.

Bath is a masterpiece of the highest quality that shows one of the best bands in the avant- garde metal scene creating an uncanny and transcendental experience for the listener. The level of songwriting and musicianship displayed throughout this album is beyond remarkable. It is an album that takes a lot of risks, and it takes them with a bold almost reckless attitude that is extremely inspiring, as it ends up succeeding in every way possible. Time will tell if maudlin of the Well's output, including this album, will be remembered as timeless classics; but I know in my book this is one album for the ages, an essential piece of musical genius.

Roundabot | 5/5 |

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