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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

4.19 | 236 ratings

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morpheusdraven
4 stars The companion album to Bath and another distinguished accomplishment from Maudlin of the Well[, now Kayo Dot and still evolving. This band, from the next town over from me around the Boston, MA area, has approached the merging of progressive jazz and classical influences into effing heavy doom, death and black metal (on a whim, this band is so versatile) in a different way than most. While a lot of songwriters attempting such combinations will approach a piece as a work and write for that format, Toby Driver and the MOTW band seem to have a riff by riff approach to songwriting, investing as much attention to the tension and suspense of the development and progression of each sequence of notes for each instrument involved. The band might be, if the idea can be fathomed, a sort of metal Beach Boys - imagine Brian Wilson's incredible talent for short, catchy cycles of arrangment but for both clean and distorted vocals and guitar, string, reed, woodwind and brass instruments, as well as some analog organs, piano and synths in INCREDIBLY restrained and hypnotic arrangements. This is true sonic diversity, and it allows a wide range of moods to be covered, but also for heavy and progressive music to be expressed in a way that can be marvelled at for many reasons.

The ten tracks on this album are in general softer, slower and usually more acoustically based than the songs on Bath - and while, as a fan of high-energy metal I'm more fond of Bath, Leaving Your Body Map is a fantastically progressive album that holds a lot of nontraditional ideas within. The riff-for-riff songwriting approach on this album is really effective; notice, after the masterful wind-ensemble and ambient guitar intro to Stones of October's Sobbing, the seemingly dissonant clean guitar riff once the song picks up - holding the listener at full attention with a tense, jarring melodic progression that repeats once before mercifully resolving into a beautiful phrase that is rewarding and makes perfect sense to the notes that precede it. My experience listening to Maudlin of the Well is much like my experience learning classical music - in that, within individual phrases and bars, I may find myself confused by the notes written - they sound wrong, out of tune or just obnoxious, that is, until some chord or arpeggio further on down the line explains it perfectly and rewards you for your patience. Listening to Maudlin of the Well requires much less patience than learning classical music, however, for the genius is provided in full.

The band's approach to doom metal is masterful, a crushing guitar tone and snap-crisp drum fills with sick, evil grooves, as appropriate to darker thoughts as Black Sabbath was to teens and twenties in the seventies. They handle jazzier syncopation, some crackling death and black metal passages with furious tempo that loses none of the beauty of the more restrained sections. We get a good range of this throughout the various songs, as well as masterful and heartwrenching acoustic sections. Interlude 3 and 4, the predecessors to which are on Bath, are more rewarding and more developed than versions 1 and 2, and more restrained vocal numbers like Sleep is a Curse and Monstrously Low Tide (after a crushing 45- second intro) are effectively subdued, employing piano and all manner of ethereal male and female vocals as well as tastefully minimal synth-strings to get a very spacy and light atmosphere to run in perfect contrast to the heaviest moments of the album. And like any good multi-part song, both sections of Riseth He, The Numberless, build intelligently and with good pace from unconventionally quiet beginnings, the first an airy trumpet solo to evoke Miles Davis' most ambient moments, and the second from harp, guitar and piano over a bombastic drumline that is met perfectly by swelling epic synths and finally a metal riff. None of the excursions here are trite or contrived, and they all feel really sincere - and it's a wonder that these folks have the talent to envision and then perform work of this complexity.

For metal that is progressive without an overdose of shredding guitar and keyboard excess - in otherwords truly progressive music that ignores formula - Maudlin of the Well is a good bet. They get more progressive in the Kayo Dot incarnation, while the high-speed inhuman metal is more prevalent on Bath and the previous album; but Leaving Your Body Map is a quality progressive album that is challenging, rewarding and unique.

morpheusdraven | 4/5 |

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