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Maudlin Of The Well - Leaving Your Body Map CD (album) cover

LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP

Maudlin Of The Well

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.20 | 239 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Beauty, Raw Emotion, Brilliance, and Warts

Toby Driver is one of the wunderkind geniuses of the last 10 years, and I've come to appreciate his avant take on metal through quite a few listens to albums by both MotW and his current project Kayo Dot. LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP is one of a pair of albums that put Driver on the map. Maudlin is more of a band affair than Dot, and this lends a bit of balance that even KD's best works lack. I absolutely loved the recent PART THE SECOND which led me searching for the early works. I found LYBM used at one of St. Louis' better record shops, and it's been a great journey.

Compared to PtS, LYBM contains much more metal. A variety of harsh vocal sounds are used, thrashy guitar tones weave in and out, and we get some blast beats from the drummer. This is a mixed blessing. The heavier elements add a greater variety of feels and weapons for Driver's muse, but the harshest parts are sometimes just too much for the music to my ear. On the other hand, there is a youthful energy on LYBM that is virtually gone from more recent Driver work.

This is an enormous and daunting album, one that deserves a track by track.

Stones of October Sobbing - Beautiful opening with guitar and flute in a jazzy, dreamy stroll gets broken abruptly by a death metal growl and a heavy guitar that sounds like a biker with a dirty yellow beard taking a dump in the middle of the stage during a performance of the Nutcracker ballet. Driver adds in some screams for good measure, while the band simultaneously plays the nasty and sweet parts. The voice leaves and the two parts seem to find a happy common ground. When the vocals return, Driver intentionally screws with us some more with random atonal horns. Again, a respite, and then blast beats. Here the growls make sense in context for a brief moment. Without a doubt, this is one of the most ambitious songs ever recorded to even come close to succeeding. It's brilliant, but it sucks a little too.

Gleam In Ranks - One of the fastest songs I've heard Driver do, probably the only one that I would use the word "Rock" to describe. I love this song. Strange rhythmic choices, piano flourishes, and one of Driver's best vocals. Prog metal heaven!

Bizarre Flowers / A Violent Mist - After pummeling and confusing me, and then rocking my socks off, the Maudlin boys deliver a song that is quite solid but certainly doesn't evoke the same level of emotion I'd experienced before. Where I'm force to live some of the songs on this album, I simply listen to this one. Driver's harsh vocals are more black-metalish here and though the song is certainly quite heavy, it doesn't pack the punch of track 1.

(Interlude 3) - Is, surprise, surprise, a quiet acoustic guitar interlude. It echoes one of the melodic themes that recurs through the album. First hand drum and then violin and horn enter to create a tonality similar to some Kayo Dot, but much more accessible. Frankly pretty, a nice respite from the intensity.

A Curve That To An Angle Turn'd - develops much like the opening track, with a nicely composed clean quiet bit that turns to heavy sludge with growled vocals. This gets a bit boring and repetitive for about a minute but then gets interspersed with clean jazzy sections. Eventually there is a gentle female vocal interlude and the piece finishes with an angry outburst. I'm left a little lost, a little bored.

Sleep is a Curse - This jazzy guitar / vocal from Driver is still for me the signature tune from the genius. Toby sounds young but the music is vibrant and mature, and the vocal melody weaves in an out with a lyric that sticks with me. Driver's quirky harmonic sense still makes this clearly his work, despite a very spare and intimate performance.

Riseth He, The Numberless 1 - The opening trumpet promises so much, and when the band comes in, they deliver. Here the heaviness works with death march snare and harmony guitar raising the intensity until again we get the growl vocals. The lyrics can be clearly made out here, and the tonality fits. When a true thrash metal beat comes in at about 2:45, I just want to yell "YeSSSS." And it just gets better. A perfectly metal guitar solo is short and sweet but just adds more intensity. Abruptly we get a stop with some distant muffled screams...

Riseth He, The Numberless 2 - Slowly we rise again, first with trapset, then piano, then the rolling bass with yet another part to a piece that goes so many places but maintains its identity. An almost Sabbath-y riff accompanies a simple key line before we get the end of the story. The guitars during the vocal part are much more complex than track 5. Never do I lose attention. A two-part progressive death metal feast of an epic that would have made Opeth pick up the pad and start taking notes.

(Interlude 4) - Of all things, after the horror fest, we get...sleigh bells. Another intimate acoustic piece with Driver's unmistakable tonality. Quite distinct from the other acoustic bits, it features a beautiful bass solo. Just when it begins to seem long, the band drops in and we're transported. Beauty. This is musical heaven, foreshadowing Part the Second, and Driver at his most sublime.

Monstrously Low Tide - Great, massive riff that sounds like Alice In Chains with 10 ton cajones opens the final song deceptively. After about a minute, an acoustic guitar brings in an ethereal female vocal. Driver then enters with his adolescent voice, and this time it sounds a bit out of place. The whole piece has great moments, but is a bit meandering. There is a long slap-back guitar solo in the style of Devin Townsend to close the song and the album in a strange, wandering into the woods way.

There are parts of this album that reach masterpiece level, and I wouldn't argue with anyone who chose to bump the whole album to that level. It's a bit too uneven for me award 5 stars, but is a truly progressive, creative, musical piece of metal that has something to say.

Negoba | 4/5 |

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