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Maudlin Of The Well - Bath CD (album) cover

BATH

Maudlin Of The Well

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.16 | 216 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Maudlin of the Well, how can I describe this band? Well, to put it shortly, they are an ambient post-rock thrash death metal band with avant-garde tinges. Now if that isn't wordy I don't what what wordy is. Anyway, their highly acclaimed album Bath, in my opinion, isn't all that the other reviewers are cracking it up to be. Sure it's highly creative, highly challenging, hauntingly beautiful, and crushingly powerful, but there seems to be a balance issue on this album. The album can go from ethereal and very spacey to disturbing and brutal within a matter of seconds. It is in no way a masterpiece, but it is far from a catastrophe.

Let me start with the opener, The Blue Ghost/Shedding Qliphoth. This song begins the album with a very dreamy multi-layered echo of gentle guitars and soft vocals. It has the traditional post-rock crescendo that slowly drifts into silence. It is a beautiful opener. They Aren't All Beautiful is a dratic juxtaposition to The Blue Ghost in that this song is extremely heavy and brutal. The growls in the beginning remind me a bit of a low register Mikael Akerfeldt. The guitars also remind me heavily of Opeth with the dissonant chords and progressions. The over the top screaming towards the middle of the track, though, are something I can't really seem to grasp. The music is great, but the vocals ruin it. Add a slightly off-placed sax solo, and you have a death metal/saxophone recipe that succeeds in most aspects.

Heaven and Weak continues the ambient dream of gentle guitars and vocals for about half of the song, then it breaks out into a massive riff based metal piece towards the end. A group that can effectively segue from gentle to brutal really know what they are doing, in my opinion. The (Sign of the) Four is short little acoustic piece that once again continues the post-rock trend. The Ferryman begins with some ominous church organ and then breaks into another Opeth type riff. Keep in mind that even though the have Opeth tendencies, this group in no way is an Opeth clone. This is probably my favorite metal piece on the album, really strong riffs and some strong operatic female vocals. Marid's Gift of Art is a quiet and somber piece that has a beautiful and triumphant trumpet solo towards the middle. The gentle vocal and the chords on the guitar really make this one of the more beautiful pieces on the album.

Girl With a Watering Can begins with some anxious clarinet that ascends and descends with beautiful tones and a somber melody. The band then kicks in with some slightly chorused guitar and some melodic trumpets. The drumming remains subdued as the female vocalist sings beautifully and swirls with the other instruments. The piece quickly picks up in pace and takes the listener down some more ethereal avenues. A slightly heavy riff comes in around the 3:30 mark and the song takes a heavier direction for the rest of the song. The vocals become more echoey and spacey and the violin in the background mixes well with the distorted guitars. Around the 6:30 mark the song hits it's heaviest with a nice wah guitar and keyboard solo.

Birth Pains of Astral Projection begins with some great guitars playing different riffs in the same key. An ethereal keyboard gives this track a more mysterious feel. There's a great sax solo at the 1:30 mark and the song continues the melodic pace for the next 2 minutes. The vocals then become hectic and mutli-layered and a progressively heavier riff is played with a nice solo on top. The song then takes many different forms, with growled vocals over uneasy guitars. scream sections, and clear vocal over some nice clean guitar chords. The (Sign of the) Nine has a jazzy feel with a walking bass line and some nice unison guitar/piano lines. A nice acoustic guitar theme is also presented. The album finishes with Geography, a nice gentle guitar based track that has a earthy organic vocal and some nice flute work. It evolves in a great fashion and ends the album withs style.

In the end, I feel that while this album is not a masterpiece, it is a great achievement for the now defunct band. My only real gripes are the unbalanced sections between metal and ambient work, and the vocals on They Aren't All Beautiful aren't at all beautiful (pun intended). Fans of metal and post-rock will find something to like with this album. Me? I'll give it a 4.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |

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