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Maudlin Of The Well - Bath CD (album) cover

BATH

Maudlin Of The Well

Experimental/Post Metal


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frenchie
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A masterpiece of progressive rock certainly is NOT an applicable term to use for this album. Sure it is full of some great tunes but it is a conceptual nightmare which is a big problem for this album. The majority of people who listen to this interesting album are probably only likely to be able to enjoy half of this album. This is an album crafted out of two extremes, mellow, acoustic space rock with gentle vocals, and extreme heavy metal. Now this may remind you of Opeth but Maudlin do it in a way that does not sound balanced and organised. For instance, the first track is a brilliant 7 minute intro of acoustic guitars and spacey textures. This then randomly veers of course into a speedy, heavy track with growling vocals. And the album is always quirky like that. This is a statement of avant garde, but that's not a complete excuse for this unpredicatable nightmare.

So for those metal fans who don't like space rock or acoustic work, they will only find about half of this album any good. And for those fans who love their acoustic and space rock, but detest extreme metal, their listening experience is likely to be ruined by the unessecary heavy parts of this album.

An album made of two musical extreme's like this makes it hard to categorise this band. Space metal is as accurate as you can get. These two opposite mellow and aggressive influences are not at all parallel with each other on this album and it makes for difficult listening. It has also pushed Maudlin of the Well into obscurity and could perhaps be a reason for them splitting up.

Each individual piece is very good, you get space rock ("The Blue Ghost"), symphonic prog ("The Ferryman"), acoustic songs, (most of "Heaven and a Weak") and extreme metal tunes ("They Aren't All Beautiful"), yet I happen to like all these different types of music, still I admit that having all these different subgenres do not go well with each other. Maudlin of the Well have alienated themselves from both space prog and extreme heavy metal.

Overally, "Bath" displays some good indvidual pieces, but as an album, it's concept is tackily put together and has a high chance of putting people off with its opposing forces of music.

Approach with much caution!

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Send comments to frenchie (BETA) | Report this review (#52023)
Posted Sunday, October 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
GoldenSpiral
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wow, what to say about this great album? Well, it's certainly not for the casual listener. MotW combine such a wide array of diverse musical styles from folk, symphonic and acoustic rock to extreme death and black metal that it makes their records a challenging listen to say the least. A first time listener, even one well versed in avant garde music will likely think 'What is this? What is going on here?' At times the music seems to jump around unexpectedly and without logic or reason. A song might be coasting along in a pleasant ambient fashion, then suddenly break out into dissonant, aharmonic thrash metal. A third or fourth-time listener of this album will likely come to appreciate this album's avant garde charm and eventually its immense beauty.

The first track starts out with some soft guitar harmonies echoing gently, and slowly other instruments and soft vocals begin to enter the song. It progresses much like a post-rock song that builds and dies away, then explodes again. The second track proves it's title "They Aren't all Beautiful" as it jumps immediately into thrashy death metal. This song, while grating on the ears at first, progresses into a true work of art as the song breaks down, and the vocalist's tortured screams echo in the background, the song moves through several quirky breakdowns and even an oddly-placed saxophone solo!

"Heaven and the Weak" is my favorite track on the record, and arguably the best. It starts out with softly plucked strings in the beginning, and later resembles Novembre as the metal guitars enter. Not to be outdone, there is a nasty thrash metal interlude before the song returns to a recognizable form. The guitar harmonics at the 6 minute mark really do it for me.

The album continues in this fashion through two soft interludes, the huge doom-metal organs in the beginning of "The Ferryman", another melodic post-rock type progression and clarinet solo in "Girl with a Watering Can", and the unpredictable changes of "Birth Pains of Astral Projection", which sounds like soft rock, death metal and jazz all at once. The album concludes peacefully with the melodic and thickly layered "Geography" which serves as a sort of beautiful sunset at the end of a very long and very very strange journey.

This album is HIGHLY recommended for all fans of avant-garde music and progressive metal. It's certainly a hard pill to swallow, but so is most good prog rock. It is certainyl not a 5 star record, and it takes a special kind of ear to really appreciate it. I give it about 3.75ish stars, so in the spirit of avant-music, let's just round to 4. Be warned, however, it is NOT for everyone.

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Send comments to GoldenSpiral (BETA) | Report this review (#80787)
Posted Friday, June 09, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#80889)
Posted Saturday, June 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
chamberry
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ah! My favorite maudlin of the Well album. Gentle soft and full blown death metal (?)

This album showcases the soft side of maudlin of the Well better than Leaving your body map. It still carries the same method used by them and it's still a very heavy album with fast drumming and guitar playing with growling vocals and overall unpredictable. So hold on, sit tight and enjoy the music however you can because this will be one hell of a ride full of extremely gentel melodic songs and Over the top death metal.

Again, the first song on the album represents most of the style of the album. While Leaving your body map started with a bang, this one is more laid back instrumental with atmospheric guitar playing, soft trumpet play and acoustic guitars and at the end all of those instruments makes a very enjoyable soft song mix perfectly. Little by little the songs starts to build up adding drums and other instruments until it blows with the same guitar riff but now with distortion and another guitar in the back and with that the song ends. Yet the second song is completly different wich is mainly a death metal song with growling vocals and Toby Driver screaming with all that he's got. A very pompous and angry song recommended to keep your adrenaline flowing.

By the start of the third song you'll clearly noticed the difference between Leaving your body map. Soft acoustic guitars,more use of the violins and wind instruments and the soft voice of Toby Driver's clean voice even at the hardest parts of the song are the clear differences. Another great thing of this album is the better use of the female vocalist, Maria-Stella Fountoulakis. She shines in the songs even if she's singing in an operatic way like in The Ferryman or soft and nice like in Girl with a watering can. The atmosphere is less doomier and more like in a pastoral field with a garden scene with a sepia overtone. (get the view?). The songs also blend a little better making the transitions between soft and hard flow nicer. A nice thing about this album that I like is the strange use of . . . water. On gentle songs like Interlude 2 its used like any normal instruments slaping their hands and making a very nice rythim carried by the bass and some piano playing.

In conclusion, This is a more mellow album with more varied use of instruments, more accesible and the essential album of maudlin of the Well by my point of view although the other is strong contender too. If you're looking for the soft MOTW get this one, but if ou're looking for a harder MOTW then go and get Leaving Your Body Map.

4.3/5

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Send comments to chamberry (BETA) | Report this review (#82254)
Posted Thursday, June 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This album proved Toby Driver is one of the most creative forces of my era(class of the 00's).

Take all preconceptions that you have about progressive music and throw them out the window. Toby Driver, like Garm/Trickster G. of Ulver, have more or less blown away all their competition and have created bands/projects which totally change the approach to music.

Relying on a more artistic feel, Maudlin of the Well have created music with no intention of ever selling out to the man. The music is free-flowing from passage to passage, has some of the most unexpected twists and turns, ranging from ambient post-rock experimentalism to full throttle aggression that reminds me of Meshuggah, though not nearly as technically oriented. The track Heaven and Weak makes that point fully.

If you believe music has gotten stale, that their is nothing new out there, I urge you to give Bath a try. It may not be to your tastes, but you will certainly not think all creativity has been dried up. Please also check Bryan's review, as he is a better writer than me on this subject.

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Send comments to OpethGuitarist (BETA) | Report this review (#92464)
Posted Thursday, September 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars maudlin of the Well - Bath,

First, I must say that I bought maudlin of the Well - Bath, Kayo Dot - Choirs of the Eye, Kayo Dot - Dowsing Anemone With a Copper Tongue albums recently and decided to review all these three albums at the same time. I bought Bath a week earlier than the Kayo Dots. I will compare the three albums during the review a lot, so try not to let that bother too much. I’m trying to figure out the key for this amazingly evolving music. For these three reviews I got an idea to write down my thoughts and opinions about the albums during the time I listen the albums and section my experiences into parts. So, I decided to give four weeks of listening time hoping it would be enough. I will start this review with a section, where I comment about the albums in four parts. So a week of listening and some thoughts about that experience written in that particular week. I hope I made it clear enough. This paragraph can be found in all the three reviews.

The experience table,

--- First week:

I listened the album very much and have enjoyed it quite much. I really want to start listening the album every time I see it or think about it. First impression was that ”this could turn out to be real blastful of great music.” The songs are good, and these songs really give out something to grasp, unlike the two Kayo Dots. I couldn’t get into the songs completely during the first week of listening, but I really started to like most of the songs. ’They Aren’t All Beautiful’ is a bit brutal, but I like it. The first song is great. This song is perfect for relaxing and really concentrating into flying out from this planet. Rest of the songs seem to be very good stuff. But I really feel like I want to listen more.

Second week:

In the beginning of this week I enjoyed listening the album, but rest of the week I left the album alone. I really needed a short break. The songs really started to grow on me. The music needed no big, deep discoveries while the Kayo Dots haven’t opened to me at all during the first week, and I have doubts about the second as well. I see this record (Bath) as a very early stage of the evolving music of maudlin of the Well/Kayo Dot. Kayo Dot continues where maudlin of the Well left, after these two weeks, it really can be heard. It’s quite interesting actually, I mean how big the step was to the music of Kayo Dot.

Third week:

I’ve not listened the album much. Spinned it only couple of times, perhaps. I like it very much, but due to my furious listening in the beginning, my enthusiasm is quite low at the moment. Still, I see this record as a good package of great, and very interesting music. The best songs are: ’The Ferryman’, ’Girl With a Watering Can’ and ’Birth Pains of Astral Projection’ at this point. The upcoming last week should bring no extra enlightenments... Well, we shall see

Fourth week:

My listening period is over. Great experience, it really was. I really like all of the songs here, they are good packages of good music. The favourites are same as above. I listened the album quite much during the last week and concluded it with listening all the three albums in a row. ---

The beautiful first track ’The Blue Ghost/Shedding Qliphoth’ and the brutal ’They Aren't All Beautiful’ starts the album with interesting contrast. ’Heaven and Weak’ and ’The Ferryman’ includes some metal parts and some calm jazzy parts as well as soft and beautiful parts. The mellow ’Marid's Gift of Art’ and the powerful ’Girl With a Watering Can’. The jamming ’Birth Pains of Astral Projection’ with its psychedelic metal. And the last track, the soft ’Geography’. All the songs stand for the term good music. But nothing more. The album is very easy to listen, because all the songs have a decent structure. That is good thing. But that is the fact that doesn’t make this album special. This album serves as a decent quality music. There are great parts in some of the songs and not a single song that hasn’t got any good sides in it. I believe that almost everyone could enjoy this piece of work, or at least some parts of it. Quite enjoyable album. Not a masterpiece, not excellent addition, but a good album. I give this album three stars.

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Send comments to The Squirrel (BETA) | Report this review (#94617)
Posted Sunday, October 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I first heard the name Toby Driver through his more popular project Kayo Dot. Via online communities, I was veered towards some more of his projects. I soon acquired the sophomore Dot album, the sole Tartar Lamb album, and have had Driver's solo album extremely high on my priority list for a while now. The last Driver project (aside from the Bloody Panda/Kayo Dot split I've had misery finding) for me to acquire is the catalog of maudlin of the Well. This has been the hardest for me to absorb, as it contains a lot of elements of music I regularly repel automatically.

For example, some of the vocal work, guitar work, and even the mood is comparable to the modern brand of emo music (a false term, to be sure, but the one it has been clad nonetheless). Its prominent metal flavour is in a style I don't share much love for, but can tolerate. Despite these things I dislike, though, there's a lot that intrigued me about maudlin of the Well. What drew me to the album most was the beautiful and transcendental ecstasy it produced; the apathetic and enrapturing embrace of the psychedelic electracousitca. Some just wonderfully celestial sound waves soothe my senses on Bath. Not amid, but astride the metal there is much beauty and solace.

But not only are the psychedelic passages so sensually beckoning, but the too brief classical and jazz gestures seduce me as well. I fear the trumpet, cello, and flute are underplayed here. I admit, it seems like I just want these maudlin albums just to be more Kayo Dot albums, and it's true that this is a completely different band. Just because the Driver mastermind is plotting the course doesn't mean it should be the same as his future projects. Even though I wish they were. Because I love Kayo Dot so much. Regardless of my expectations and musical desires, by that I mean I'm speaking more objectively, the classical and jazz excursions are very undeveloped.

But I can't really criticize the metal and pop (to replace the term of emo) despite being in a vein I'm not particularly affiliated or familiar with, it is well constructed and very good music. Extremely clean playing and a bit of brutal singing mark it a perfect album for a metal fan who wouldn't mind being removed from earth. Despite a metal fan being something I certainly am not, I really enjoy this album overall, and facilitate Toby Driver for a wonderful work. I will not hide the fact that I, by a very large margin, admire Kayo Dot, Tartar Lamb, and what I've heard of his solo efforts more. Avant-garde tricks, ambient elements, and minimalistic approach aren't here at all, and the jazz and classical nods are still extremely subtle. I wouldn't doubt this would make a decent introduction for a metal fan to the world of avant-garde music, or the rest of Driver's music.

Bath is a perfectly good album, but strictly by personal taste, nothing more.

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Send comments to Shakespeare (BETA) | Report this review (#168332)
Posted Monday, April 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
sleeper
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I've often heard people talk about albums in terms of how they take them to a certain place in their minds, transport them if you will, and apply this only to the most highly regarded and, for them, successful albums. I'll be honest and say that I have no idea what they are on about. Well, I had no idea before I bought this, maudlin of the Well's Bath, partnered with Leaving Your Body Map, which does exactly that. Listening to it (and Leaving Your Body Map) almost always takes me to a place in my mind where I am totally immersed in the music, an experience that I don't think I could even attempt to convey into words. What I will try to convey is how it got me there. This album is a huge step up from the impressive debut my Fruit Psychobells... a Seed Combustible, by making a huge step up in the composition of the songs, which wasn't exactly lacking on that first album anyway. There's a maturity that comes across here in the bleak yet relaxing atmosphere that gets punctuated by moments of savage power from the death metal inspired sections, bringing a whole new meaning to the song title They aren't all Beautiful.

The only flaw to this near perfect album is the inclusion of Uncovering the Gift. Those of you that have the 2006 remasters with the enhanced liner notes will know that Uncovering the Gift was one of Toby Drivers very first recordings way back in the early- to mid- 90's and such has the production quality you would expect from a basement recording of that time, i.e. dreadful. Despite the fact that it clearly possesses many of the hallmarks that would be hugely developed in the proceeding years, its serves to bring me back from my place with a bump and just brakes up the flow of the end of the album, a great shame. The best songs on here are Heaven and Weak (a truly amazing song), The Ferryman, Girl with a Watering Can and Birth Pains of Astral Projection. This album is a must for any fan of truly experimental music.

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Send comments to sleeper (BETA) | Report this review (#168619)
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Dim
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Toby Driver, a genius in my book, maybe one of the most original thinkers to be born, nothing he has done ever lost my attention for too long, almost everything is perfect. My biggest icon in modern music, whether it be the chaos of Kayo Dot, the eeriness of Tartar lamb, or the just plain weirdness of his solo album, everything he touches turns to gold. Of all his projects though, Maudlin of the Well is the greatest, honestly a band that has done so much for me as far as my musical growth. This group helped me expand my mind to so many different genres, and styles, but not only that, but how to blend them into three monumental albums, this one being the best, BATH.

The music of Maudlin of the Well is incredibly diverse, one minute you may be in a straight up death metal song, the next you're listening to some jazzy horns, the next you're listening to an acoustic folky song, and it all fits. They're so eclectic it wouldn't be wrong to call this band avant Garde, to me though, that's the beauty of the music, they're not afraid to put some intricate post rocky lead line of a horn section, or add a church organ with some death metal vocals to add a doomy effect. To me it all works, it's possible to make beautiful prog metal, with strings and not be a lame symphonic power metal band, and you can add horns and long songs and not be a post metal band, this group belongs to no genre.

Bath is a companion album to the almost equally amazing Leaving your body map, and apparently is the first part of who knows what concept. It's a bit diverse than Leaving your body map, as far as the songs go, and also, by the time you hit the song Birth pains and astral projections, you feel a certain emotion that just eeks out of the speakers that just doesn't hit the same level on LYBM. This assortment of ten songs may very well be my favorite made, every song is extremely special in it's own way and each very different than the other. It's more jazzy, it's more metal, yet at the same time it's a little softer than anything else Toby has ever put out. It's just beautiful.

Okay you're probably tired of listening to my fanboyism, so I'll get into detail about the music. While most of the songs are indeed metal, most of the smaller tracks around the metal songs are usually softer, acoustic interludes, each one staring with a jazzy chord progression, then slightly building up with some horns playing a melody, then another guitar will come in and play perhaps a lead line, or a parallel chord progression, while the double bass will throb away. There are four track in these two albums called the interludes I-IV. The other softer tracks on this album is the opening song song, and the beautiful three minute Marids gift of art. The firs an instrumental starting with only an acoustic guitar, and progressively getting bigger and bigger adding multiple guitars, keyboards, and eventually drums, until the very end when te electric comes in for a huge climactic ending. Marids gift of art is just a pretty lullaby by Driver, with only his guitar his voice, and a trumpet to end the song. I know sounds corny, but it really is one of the prettiest songs you may ever hear.

Then there's the metal song, all of which follow no common structure, and are chopped up into three or four different sections. While most start with an eerie series of notes on the guitar, keyboard, or church organ, some like they're not all beautiful start with a bang and go right into furious drumming and strumming, with some of the deepest, yet clearest death metal vocals ever, which just capitalizes on Toby's amazing voice. This song is pretty much the closest MotW gets to a straight up death metal song, though still is very proggy. The other songs usually are guided by the vocals, most of the time harsh as you go on to crazy chord progression, double bass drumming, and some incredible guitar wizardry. The breakdown will come when the vocals become the most horrifying, and the guitar at it's most crushing. The atmospheric keyboards will then take over most likely with some electric guitar in the background doing a lead line, and some clean vocals usually singing about something simple, like love, trust, or a crazy day. From then on the song will almost disappear to nothing, then out of nowhere the chaos comes back and just punches you in the face for the last minute or so of the song.

There are two main elements in the music of Toby Driver that he never fails to bring forth, and there is no exception on this album: His Electric guitar and Voice. His electric guitar is on every son except the interludes, and there just seems to be layers and layers of it, I know there is more than one guitar player, but sometimes I can swear I can hear four different guitars going around at some point, and I just find it amazing that he can go ahead and capitalize on the electric distorted guitar, whether it be a lead line, solo, or riff and still make it tasteful, and not too pompous or obnoxious.

His voice is will always be a staple point to all his music, it's so youthful, and almost punky, and he doesnt have a very large range, but what he's got he's able to melt it perfectly with the music he creates, and create an atmosphere of some solemn depressing mood. He also has so many different types of grunts and scream. In my fruit psychobells you hear a black metal scream (sadly he doesnt use past that), an extremely deep death growl, a post metal hoarse yell that IMO makes Birth pains and astral projections one of their most superior songs, and there's also that blood curdling scream, which he used all the way up to Dowsing the anemone with the copper tongue.

I understand why some people can be turned off to Maudlin, their just so crazy and eclectic, it's very inaccessible, and it takes weathered ears to learn to appreciate this music, also unlike Kayo Dot, the harsh vocals, and extreme metal are arguably more prominent than anything else, and we all know that's not for everyone. Kayo Dot may be the reincarnation of Maudlin, but I think they lost a little of their youthful originality in that band, don't get me wrong, Kayo Dot may also be in my top five Fav bands, but what some people call immaturity is what I find best in Maudlin.

I hoped what I wrote can shine a little light on this band, or album, but really words are no substitute, you have to subject yourself to the music, and drill it many many times, before one day it will just click, and you'll just be taken back by the power and majesty of this band. Like I said though these guys are truly not for everyone, but to anyone into metal, and want some music with that extra punch, I cant recommend this band to you enough, this is probably my favorite group to exist, and need to be heard.

5 stars no doubt

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Send comments to Dim (BETA) | Report this review (#172368)
Posted Tuesday, May 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars maudlin of the Well - Bath

Let's start this one off with a glaring, yet somehow nearly completely truthful, hyperbole: This album is perfect.

Yes, maudlin of the Well--the origins of the slightly better known Kayo Dot, and an earlier brainchild of Toby Driver and his companion (and death growler) Jason Byron--have crafted something truly magnificent, an unequivocally mesmerizing piece of art, something nearly unmatched in music, something completely boundless and ominously beautiful and ethereal. Something spiritual and transcendent, illustrious and entirely unique; serene, placid, tranquil, hopeful, and yet, simultaneously dark, morose, and evil.

The point of all of those long-winded and pretentious adjectives was to show how pointless and repetitive words can become when trying to describe something unfathomable; something like this album is to me. It is the group's second studio album, preceding (despite their essentially simultaneous release) Leaving Your Body Map, this album's counterpoint and essential second disc; and proceeding the clunky, rough, developmental--and yet still satisfying--debut My Fruit Psychobells...A Seed Combustible. Where My Fruit Psychobells...A Seed Combustible was rough and unpolished, Bath and Leaving Your Body Map (both were recorded in the same sessions) sound smooth, highly polished--refined--and dreamlike, reflecting their subject matter in their production.

The obvious thing that makes this review difficult, at least singularly, is that both Bath and Leaving Your Body Map are essentially just two parts of one whole, which makes more than half of what I say about one applicable entirely towards the other, and also makes focusing on just the singular one tiresome. What makes this review a bit less difficult, however, is that, in my opinion, Bath is the superior album; therefore, it is a bit easier to lavish hefty, almost uncontrollable amounts of praise upon the work.

As I said, I consider both albums to be but two parts of the same unified whole, and many things prove this, from the musical links in sound from one to the other, the simultaneous recording sessions and releases, the similar production, the reflective album covers, the tracklistings even; all of these go to prove this idea; Bath and Leaving You Body Map are one album split among two discs; they even run the same length!

But what really drives this two parts of a singular whole nail of mine into the wood is the lyrical (and musical) subject matter, and it is this same nail that helps the album to root so deeply into the emotional strands of the listener.

Driver has said in several interviews that the music of maudlin of the Well was, to say the least, inspired by two phenomena known respectively as lucid dreaming and astral projection. The first is a relatively common thing concerning dreams in which the dreamer, at some point, consciously realizes he/she is dreaming, and, as a result (with practice), is able to manipulate said dream as if it were a new kind of reality. The phenomenon is common in lower states; almost everyone--usually in childhood--has had a lucid dream. What makes these dreams difficult is the retaining consciousness while sleeping bit; it takes years of practice, using meditative and circulative forms of relaxation and psychological manipulation, in order to attain the skill to dream for lengths of time, lucidly.

Astral projection is related, but a bit different. It involves dreams--lucid dreams even--but is a bit more spiritual in nature, and also places emphasis on your dream-self being an out-of-body persona in your dream, and in lucid dreams being a form of out-of-body experience, one which traverses through the unknown, or astral, plane. There's more to the both of them, but that's enough of a gist to get through what I'm trying to say.

Driver claims that the origins for the music of Bath and Leaving Your Body Map came from, or were entirely produced within, lucid dreams of his. There is one track in particular (Interlude 4 from Leaving Your Body Map) that Driver claims was entirely composed within a dream. The lyrical content, which is mostly handled by Byron, evolves from this concept of drawing inspiration of their music directly from and within dreams, dreams being treated as another world entirely, a world which, as Driver once put it, yields to an infinite abyss of art, from which our music is drawn (This quote is a paraphrase, as I can't remember the actual word-for-word quote.)

It is likely that, with all of this overblown explanation you have stopped reading for one of two reasons: the length is getting to you, or you cannot help but think something along the lines of Wow! Toby Driver sounds like a pretentious ass! Both of these accusations may be true, but I ask you to bear with me. The music will come, and, one of these days, I'll find a way to end this review!

Anyway, where was I? It comes to mind that this whole story of where the music is from plays a huge part in creating. the impact and quality of the music itself. Instead of a metal album(s), in Bath we have a deceptive, clever, elusive, dreamlike album; it is something that assuredly, in almost every way, reflects the concepts that influenced the making of the album(s). The reason I explained all of the album background is simply that it is essential in understanding the subject matter, tone, and REASONING behind these strange, mystic pieces of art. I never fully grasped what the music was trying to say on this album until I realized what Byron was Shakespearically rambling on about; until Driver's mystic musings started to make sense; until the shifting, surreal tone of the album found its niche in my mind; until I listened through headphones and absorbed the fantastical, mysterious production the album rides upon. After this, it all fell into place, piece by elusive puzzle piece. And now, after about two years of back and forth listening to these two albums, I comprehend them, and I love them. Only now do I fully realize the stroke of beauty each note of these albums configures and portrays.

My point is, Bath is simply beautiful. And now, after some 1,000 words of text, I think I am justified in reviewing the music on this album, and in taking a shot at describing what the album musically and stylistically represents.

So here goes. Now, the music:

maudlin of the Well is a metal band, assuredly. This is entirely impossible to deny, what with the screeching riffs that sometimes shine through, the death vocals which permeate several songs, the wailing, painful yelps of Driver that climatically send shiver after shiver down the spine, and the impregnable presence of the multiple guitar layers that drive the album. Taking this information in tow, it is important to note that Bath is actually the band's least metallic album.

The music on Bath is very relaxed, but is also very varied. At times, it is even very avant-garde and seemingly uncontrolled. At other times it is very straightforward and organized. The difference between these variations among the musical fray with this band, versus others that may be grouped into a similar genre, is that maudlin manages to retain control, structure, transitions, and yes, beauty throughout each genre-flop they attempt, and successfully. pull off. The music may hop around from an intense, loud, organ solo to a double-bass-flopping, screaming death nightmare, and then all again into an acoustic, water-drenched balled-of-sorts; however, rather than this sporadic style sounding unfocused, it all sounds very crystalline and natural, and this is a feat the band surely deserves to boast of. Nothing on this album or its counterpoint sounds forced or unstable; it all works brilliantly and cohesively.

And this is the style of the band's music. Unpredictable, surely, yet never uncontrolled. This is also, perhaps, what makes the album as surreal as it is. It's like seeing many fleeting mirages in a desert, and trying to recall them later; like dreaming several times throughout the night, of things evil and of things beautiful, things mysterious, and things concrete. It is, as I said sometime at the beginning of this too-lengthy review, (near) perfect.

From the opening post-rock of The Blue Ghost / Shedding Qliphoth to the concluding, and immensely emotional closer Geography, this albums shines an ethereal light upon the senses of the listener. Whether or not the listener believes in the controversial existence of the astral plane this music is said to have origins in, he/she will certainly feel as if he/she has visited it after a listen to this album (especially though headphones!).

The undeniable presence of the musicians certainly deserves a mention as well. The guitar-work is fantastic, and the colorful flutes, clarinets, saxophones, and what-have-you that dot the album are what give it its subtle beauty. the vocal work--all four styles (death growls, clean Driver vocals, Driver's screams, and female vocals on The Ferryman and Girl With A Watering Can)--is very good across the board, and as varied as the music itself. All of the pieces this album is built upon are utilized brilliantly, and work cohesively to form one beautiful whole.

The best song on the album, in my opinion, is Birth Pains of Astral Projection, which fully deserves the special mention I am giving it. It encompasses the complete style of the band in one, 10-and-a-half minute semi-epic of monstrous proportions. The song, or suite it could even be called, works through power and innocence, beauty and climax, dry and wet (sounds strange yes, but I believe you'd understand my use of these words if you heard the song), all of these things in one fell swoop. The results are impeccably immense, and ridiculously awesome, for lack of better words (I've used enough adjectives in this review already!)

I don't really know how exactly I should end this, as I've said so much. I'm scared to start writing in truth again, for fear that I'll never stop...So, I'm forcing myself now, for my own sake, this review's sake, and the reader's sake as well, to stop.

I've gushed enough over this amazing album, and all that's left to do is to assign it with the obvious rating it will receive. It's like a 9.8 or a 9.9 on my scale, and certainly 5 stars on this one, without question. The album is hard to find, and harder to endure on the first few listens, as it is rather slow-paced, some would say. The band will, sadly, continue to be under-appreciated, or rather under-heard, despite how many words I write about them. So I'll finally leave at that....

5 stars, without a question or doubt in my mind. Listen, hear, comprehend, and then you will love, and assuredly understand better what it is to live--what it is to dream.

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Send comments to Figglesnout (BETA) | Report this review (#172672)
Posted Saturday, May 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars How do you review an album like Bath? The music is absolutely stunning in its beauty and power but so diverse that describing its sound is next to impossible/useless. Its a feeling, an experience, one of those albums that takes me somewhere. How do you convey that in a review? Nevertheless, Im going to do my best to put down my thoughts on this incredible music.

The music found here plays out like a dream. A perfect, spiritually cleansing dream. It ranges in sound from subdued woodwinds and gentle horns to chaotic explosions of avant metal and jazz to full on psychedelic space rock. They even utilize a female vocalist who compliments the songs she appears in wonderfully. Driver will lead you into this complex wash of textures and sounds full of soaring, blistering riffs, guttural vocals and pained shrieks (how does that man do that with his voice? incredible) leave you feeling lost, only to then guide you out at the last minute and show you something beautiful.

It all reminds me of a ball of knotted yarn. The chaotic twists and turns and violent movement of the yarn in the knot is enthralling and intimidating. Church organs blare, trumpets shout, the guitars chug and crunch and shred while the music warps and twists to the point of knotting. But just then Driver pulls on the yarn and in turn takes you out on that single simple elegant strand in the moments of quiet acoustics and echoed splashes of water (which surprised and delighted me). These moments are much more dominant on this disc than on Leaving Your Body Map which is a much tighter knot of a record. Bath is loose and flow-y; wispy and elegant; and as the other reviewers mentioned, mellower. also, the overall sound is very warm and earthy. The band focused on atmosphere and was extremely successful.

Ok so maybe my overblown little metaphor is confusing but like i said, i dont know how to review this music. That's just the way my mind makes sense of things i guess. I dont like doing song by song reviews so i wont, ill just end with 2 of my favorite songs - loved geography. the lyrics, the pacing, Toby Driver's singing, the mood, just a wonderful song. what a way to end the album. -Birth Pains of Astral Projection. the best 'metal' song from MotW. The name works as a good description of the sound. space metal with heavy jazz influence.

***** five stars from me.

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Send comments to keiser willhelm (BETA) | Report this review (#178772)
Posted Sunday, August 03, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Bath is the second full-length studio album by American ( Boston, Massachusetts) experimental/ progressive metal act Maudlin of the Well. The album was released on the Dark Symphonies label along the third full-length studio album by the band Leaving Your Body Map (2001) shortly before Maudlin of the Well disbanded. The album was re-released in 2005 with three bonus tracks in The Ocean, The Kingdom, And The Temptation (Demo), Uncovering The Gift and The Horror Of Lunars Retreat.

The music on the album is very diverse and the band takes elements from many genres and mix them into their own style. Death metal parts, mellow acoustic sections and atmospheric parts. There are both growling and clean male vocals as well as female vocals in the music.

The musicianship is excellent and the variation in the music gives the musicians the opportunity to show various sides of their skill.

The production is good. The sound quality is much better than on the debut My Fruit Psychobells...A Seed Combustible (1999).

Bath is an interesting experimental/ progressive metal album but I can´t say it moves my world. The vocal melodies seem a bit weak and they are not very memorable to these ears. Overall the album comes off a bit inconsistent to me. Maudlin of the Well have many excellent ideas in their music but generally the mood in the songs and the diverse nature of their music don´t suit my taste. I´ve given it many spins but still miss the charm that I know others hear. A 3 star rating is deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#215142)
Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The forebears of mysterious psychedelic metal.

I don't know what to tell you about this album, really. I love it, that is for sure. One of my favorite albums of all time, and roughly as enjoyable to me as Leaving Your Body Map.

First off, the album follows the "opeth" with benefits style of soft and lush post rock acoustics, and deranged and dirty, but so very masterful death/extreme metal segments. There are interludes set for atmospheric softness, and each song is highly avantgarde and experimental.

Opener The Blue Ghost/Shedding Qliphoth has some very Pink Floyd inspired sounds, and builds very nicely, until near the end as the song twists violently to meld with the next song, They Aren't all Beautiful, which features some superb extreme. The guitar lines are fantastic, and the playing is amazing, and composition, I'd almost believe they obtained it all from astral projection and lucid dreaming.

The songs to come follow unpredictable and intense drifts from extreme to soft, pretty and ugly. It all swirls together so vividly, the lyrics are cryptic and poetic in a vibrant manner. The interludes are soft almost indie rock style pieces, and offer to give the album a stellar atmosphere.

Geography closes the album on what might possibly be its prettiest moment. Soft and emotional, lush and powerful, even with acoustics. The lyrics evoke inspiring scenery, and the restrained playing is a musical blessing to me.

I can't recommend this album to everyone, but I can't say it is anything but a masterpiece, I am just not sure what kind of masterpiece. I get so much emotional enjoyment from this release, and it hits me, wave after wave of amazing aural beauty, The atmosphere is no less than staggering, and I can't complain for anyone about anything other than the fact that two so very different main themes are used within the album. Essential? Not for quite a few people, I'd wager, but it is essential to me.

Best Song - Couldn't tell you

Worst Song - Couldn't tell you

***** confused stars

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Send comments to Alitare (BETA) | Report this review (#218556)
Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 10/10

"Bath" is a dazzlingly varied album, a breathtaking, one hour demon that like no other album can make you feel every kind of emotion.

Maudlin Of The Well released in 2001 two albums, which are considered twin albums, Bath and Leaving Your Body Map. With these two albums, motw establish themselves as one of the most interesting bands out there today. The first one that got released was "Bath", the masterpiece of Toby Driver's first period, and possibly the quintessential motw album. The band has reached definite maturity with this album, and it surely will go down in music history as one of the best Avant-Garde/Experimental Metal albums ever.

Like in the first album, the first thing you notice when you listen to a motw album is how incredibly eclectic the band is: one song can be a nice, beautiful piece, while another can be a brutal death metal tune, another one can be a schizophrenic ballad full of tension and creepy moods. Well, with "Bath", this kind of eclecticism is more developed and perfected. Not only that, but also the production and the sound is very clear, unlike the rough debut. As a consequence for the eclecticism, the band has to have many band members: Of course we have Toby Driver, with his beautiful warm voice that can immediately turn into ferocious growling, as well as his beautiful and clean sounding guitar, but let's not forget Sam Gutternam's at times jazz influence at times powerful and death metal influenced drumming, Maria Stella Fountoulakis' breathtaking voice, that always gives a nice and warm touch to the song, and also the horn section that sometimes pops out.

"Bath" almost feels like a journey to the weirdest place, a place where anything could happen. These ten tracks are perfectly positioned into the album, it almost feels like there's a secret concept behind it. The first track, and possibly one of the best openers ever, is "The Blue Ghost/ Shedding Qliphoth", a stunning piece of music that never stops moving me. A gorgeous jazzy piece, instrumental, with some great harmonics in the beginning, and in the middle of the song comes in a great hook played with different guitars. The end get's more animated, the guitars are more crunchy,and the second song starts immediately."They Aren't All Beautiful" is a pure, death metal piece. The exact opposite of it's previous; Fast, ferocious, with heavy distorted guitars and powerful growls, and very frequent time changes during the song, making it 100% progressive. There is a middle part where it cools down a bit, when a clean guitar sound plays alternated with the heavy one. Great song, possibly their most brutal one. "Heaven And Weak" is basically seven minutes of unbelievable, increasing climax: starting very calmly, with the presence of the cello and other acoustic instruments, and then Driver comes in, as well as the drums. After a couple of minutes the distortion comes in, and the song get's definitely heavy. Strong powerful drumming and guitars, and the bass as well, enrich the song, and define it a masterpiece of the band.Probably the best builder the band has ever created. After the brief interlude, "The Ferryman" comes in with a strange scary intro played exclusively with an organ. Then, silence. A few drops, and then a soft melody played with guitar comes in, with drums as well. The heavy part starts unexpectedly, with some powerful growls and strong guitars. The song then gets a weirder atmosphere and the female vocalist gives a really nice and desperate sounding touch to the track. Amazing. The lyrics are all in latin, which makes he song even more interesting."Marid's Gift Of Art" is a beautiful little song, with Driver's clean vocals sounding so delicate and gentle. For almost all the song we can hear in the background some water drops falling. "Girl With A Watering Can" is a very unique song, it is an excellent opener to the following song, especially for it's kind of apocalyptic moods. The song is initially calm, with clean guitar and the female vocals, then Driver comes in, an it builds getting a little heavier, but it never explodes, since we never hear any growls in this song. Beautiful and haunting piece of music. "Birth Pains For Astral Projection" is possibly the best motw song ever. Ten glorious minutes of beauty, rage, anger, fear. The first three minutes are very soft, with some stunning guitar notes and great relaxing atmosphere. After a while, a creepy sounding riff played with a clean guitar come in, and the song starts. Mysterious, and scary, we hear Driver's growls sounding more terrifying than ever. After a while, after all that brutal and emotional part, comes in a nice spacey mood until the end of the track. Epic like no other motw song. after the second interlude, we have the final chapter, "Geography", a pretty nice and moving song, with some distorted guitars only at the end of the song, while the rest is, like I said,very enjoyable.

"Bath" has left me a huge impression. It changed me, the way I think about metal music most of all. An almost dazzlingly varied album, that makes it win the label of Avant-Garde Metal. A breathtaking, one hour demon that like no other album can make you feel every kind of emotion. Essential for any Avant-Garde fan.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#238410)
Posted Thursday, September 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover and E&O Teams
4 stars Reviewer frenchie basically said what was on my mind after hearing just two tracks. But also two extremes. And third track implements another one, "softer" extreme metal, without growling voice. While first one is calm and second extremely (well), extreme, this pattern is cycling around entire album. I would prefer calmer, more post metal like sounds, but can handle even extreme. To some extent. This combination simply doesn't fit me. You either have to be masochistic, or be able to take extreme things when you least expect them. But that's the hard thing here, I can't sink this album just because of it. Not that I want to do it. I hear promising ideas here, things which pleased me in their 2009 downloadable album. But the feeling that in one minute you hear Marid's Gift Of Art, extremely song, this time extremely calm, reminding me sea waves and in second time you're overwhelmed by ear-assault is confusing and also quite hostile. You're not feeling safe while listening music, that's not good thing. Or first part of Girl With a Watering Can, there's calm melody. Then, in second half, it's slowly coming to heavy prog style. But slowly, not sudden, unexpected changes. You have a time to get accustomed and feel more comfortable. "Bath" sometimes care about its listeners, but just from time to time.

4(-) for mostly balanced and consistent album with flaws mentioned before.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#239863)
Posted Friday, September 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
progkidjoel
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Maudlin Of The Well - BATH

Review by ProgKidJoel

My third maudlin of the Well album came in the form of bath - A perfect opera of metal and jazzy chord progressions, which leaves a lasting impression for weeks after the first listen. Toby Driver and the gang really hit the mark on this one, and when listened to in conjunction with its partner album, LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP, you can be taken on a one of a kind avant-garde musical journey. This album is definitely not beginner's material however, and took me several weeks to begin to appreciate.

The opener, THE BLUE GHOST - SHEDDING THE QLIPHOTH, opens with around 3 minutes of soft guitar playing, continuing into horn playing with some more soft guitar chords. This track continues in a similar fashion until it explodes into a prog-metal wonder in its last minute. Interesting chords and rhythms mark this opener's end, with unpredictable tones and riffs.

THEY AREN'T ALL BEAUTIFUL explodes with distorted guitar strumming and explodes into insanely brutal metal, complete with growls and double kicks. This track continues in a metal fashion for its entire length, and this track proves this album is certainly not for beginners. This track continues with several riff changes throughout its lifespan, and is an interesting follow up to the jazzy and acoustic BLUE GHOST.

HEAVEN AND WEAK is one of the best tracks on the albums - TOBY DRIVER's signature vocals play perfectly over a soft and understated drum beat and riff, creating a concept within its less than 8 minute length, which is a deeper concept than some bands can develop across an entire album. This is a beautiful track, featuring some great vocals and guitar work, worthy of prog giants. This track features some lovely overlapping synth and acoustic guitar, with muffled vocals for some sections. The rhythms in this track are jazzy, yet confusing and unpredictable. At around 3 minutes, this track bursts into a avant-garde metal fest, which is incredibly interesting, as both rhythms overlap eachother, in and out of perfect sync. The last 1 and a half minutes of this track are amazing, featuring brilliant drumming and complex rhythms which still purvey a story and never resort to technical overture.

INTERLUDE 1 is a short and beautiful track, featuring fantastic guitar work. This lasts for around 1.30 minutes, and there isn't much to be said about it...

THE FERRYMAN opens with haunting organs, which continue until around 50 seconds in. At this point, incredibly soft yet technical jazz-prog takes over, featuring lovely guitar work on both fronts. Unpredictably, this track detonates into an incendiary tech-metal masterpiece, featuring masterful rhythmic sections underlaying guitar work worthy of early DREAM THEATER. This continues for several minutes, until an insane organ solo overlaps the unpredictable madness. This once again continues until the last minute, which is insanely creepy voices and water noises which make my hair stand... Literally.

MARID'S GIFT OF ART is a much shorter track than the others, but excellent none-the-less. Featuring soft guitar work which sounds alot like the INTERLUDE tracks, this opens with vocals around 1 minute in. This soft singing perfectly compliments the great soft guitar work, and its incredible how well these two separate instrumentations play off eachother. This track then dies out with soft guitar work and lovely horn work, which transpose eachother in a way in which it seems motW have truly mastered.

GIRL WITH A WATERING CAN opens with soft clarinet playing, which eventuates into a jazzy masterpiece beyond belief.... This track also features the fantastic vocals of Maria-Stella Fountoulakis, which go fantastically with this great soft track. At around half way, this also breaks into a metal extravaganza, although it is much slower and comparatively softer than the rest of Maudlin Of The Well's metal tracks. The last two minutes of this track are filled with masterful guitar soloing, and later keyboard riffing. This is another great track in the motW catalogue.

BIRTH PAINS OF ASTRAL PROJECTION is perhaps the most song-based track on the album, but its brilliant regardless. At around 2 minutes in, this breaks into more extreme metal with screams and growls, highly reminiscent of OPETH. Then, at six minutes, we see a marked change in Maudlin of The Well's playing. This breaks into an insanely perfect song-based composition, with great vocals and a memorable riff. This track is hard to describe, and although it fits in perfectly, it stands out on the album due to its different compositional qualities. This track also features TOBY DRIVER's best guitar solo, which is absolutely epic. One of the best guitar solos I've ever heard, this marks a step-up in motW's straight up rock compositional skills, which is more than warmly welcomed.

INTERLUDE 2 is another bitter-sweet short track, this time featuring a more entertaining acoustic bass riff than the other soft guitar work on INTERLUDE 1. Still very little to say, although this does lead perfectly into my favourite Maudlin Of The Well track...

GEOGRAPHY is a genuiinely perfect track, featuring beautiful guitar and perfect vocals. This song follows in suit, and takes a more song-based writing structure. The lyrics in this track are beautiful; BREATH IS REAL, ANGER'S REAL, SLEEP ON YOUR BIRTHDAY AND CRY... CRY MY BABY... LET ME WASH YOU, I HAVE NO EARS... FOR MY LADY. This track follows its first chorus into the second verse, gaining momentum and melancholic beauty through its slow and tense build-up. This track features excellent guitar work, which is amongst the best Maudlin have ever released. The last two choruses are amazing - This first featuring lovely slide guitar work over the top of the vocals and simple rhtyhm. The last features a very heavy feel, and is perhaps motW's most emotional use of metal to date. The vocals here are perfect, and its hard to find an album closer of this quality with most bands. A perfect finish to a perfect album!

This album is definitely worth a purchase, if you can find it... An avant-garde masterpiece.

-Joel

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Send comments to progkidjoel (BETA) | Report this review (#241457)
Posted Friday, September 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Sleepwalker
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Maudlin Of The Well has managed to forge some very unique music, blending elements of various music styles into their distinctive sound. Bath was released in 2001, together with companion album Leaving Your Body Map. Where Leaving Your Body Map shows a lot of the bands heavy side, Bath is much more delicate and features more dreamy soundscapes, though still having its fierce moments every now and then.

Bath is such a beautiful album, full of musical translations of dream-like places. The band's sound is very diverse, blending Metal, Prog, Classical, Jazz, Psychedelica and many others into one. The 61 minutes that Bath lasts are very varied, though this doesn't seem to harm the album's very consistent flow. I've already mentioned that most of the music on the album is very dreamy and somewhat soft. There still are some very rough moments on the album though, like the fierce "They Aren't All Beautiful" and the organ driven and haunting "The Ferryman". There also are frequent heavy parts in the longer songs that have an overall softer feel, often serving as a climax. These softer songs often create a beautiful mood driven by melodic guitar playing, atmospheric keys and now and then some soothing wind instruments. The album never tends to drag and is a great journey from beginning to end.

A masterpiece full of innovativity, that's what Bath is. Full of hauntingly beautiful delicacy and mind-blowing climatic parts, Bath is one of the very best albums I've heard in my life. Listened together with its rougher and more aggresive companion album, Leaving Your Body Map, it truly is the musical translation of some paradise. A wonderful journey full of innovativity, distinctiveness and a fantastic feel.

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Send comments to The Sleepwalker (BETA) | Report this review (#280407)
Posted Monday, May 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Bath' - maudlin of the Well (8/10)

A relatively unknown collective based in Massachusetts, the avant-garde metal band maudlin of the Well released this album with almost no publicity or media attention to speak of. A jumble of many styles across the spectrum (chamber music to jazz to folk and psychedelia, all under a heavy metal banner) this band was certainly not going to get much attention from the mainstream, or anyone besides a few critics lucky enough to be aware of the band's existence. From this seed and a small but dedicated fanbase generated by their debut album, 'Bath' began to pick up the pace and before long, was reaching new ears around the globe, who hailed it as a 'modern masterpiece.' Years later, 'Bath' still has its share of inperfections, but it has not aged a day since the time it was released.

While merging such fargone styles as classical music, death metal and psychedelic rock could sound like a deathwish for any band and their credibility, maudlin of the Well somehow manage to make it work. Each song is decidedly unique, and brings its own host of different timbres and sounds to the table. From the serene and beautiful ('The Blue Ghost-Shedding Qliphoth') to the extreme and brutal ('They Aren't All Beautiful,') the listener is constantly shocked by the huge jumps of dynamic and genre. While this distinguishes each song from the other beautifully, it creates a bit of a rift in the sense of overall album cohesion and flow. Despite the feeling that there could have been a bit more attention to how 'Bath' all fits in together, the music itself is sublime.

Giving its title good meaning, the album immerses you within it, much like a typical bath would. The first part of a then-prospected duology, 'Bath' is the lighter, more mellow companion of the two. While 'Leaving Your Body Map' would arguably work better in terms of being an overall album, 'Bath' is the one with the standout tracks and the moments of aural perfection you can't help but to listen to on repeat. Some of the highlights would have to include the ridiculously heavy 'They Aren't All Beautiful,' the haunting acoustic closer 'Geography,' and the epic 'Birth Pains Of Astral Projection.' Everything comes to a climax with the latter track. Taking the listener through vistas of cheerful 'lounge' music to a beautiful saxophone solo to a dense psychedelic cluster, every aspect of the sound is tense as the music lets loose and becomes heavy. Jason Byron's inhuman shrieks and growls are used very effectively here, and it segues seamlessly into a more subtle section led by the softer vocals of Driver, reminiscent of indie rock. From this description alone, it's clear that maudlin of the Well are not the most accessible bunch around. However, that should not stop you from giving them a try, and hopefully appreciating the music as much, or even more than I have.

The only real fault here is as I've said; the overall flow of the album. While some listens through do not find me being bothered by the extremely polar nature of the album, it certainly affects the consistency. While some of the tracks may not be as strong and meaty as others ('The Ferryman' has never done much for me,) the majority of the tracks here are as gorgeous as you're going to hear in the metal scene. I urge you to check out 'Bath,' and soon after that; it's successor 'Leaving Your Body Map.' One of the few metal albums of the new millenium that deserves the title of 'classic,' however flawed it may be.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#290281)
Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
NecronCommander
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
5 stars An unmatched piece of absolute musical brilliance.

maudlin of the Well, a small and rather obscure band from the Boston area, have managed to compose what may be one of the most incredible, original pieces of music in the last decade. I'll attempt to encompass everything about what makes this album so incredible in a reasonable amount of time but I fear I cannot do it justice. Oh well, here goes.

Bath is the sophomore album by maudlin of the Well, released two years after their first album My Fruit Psychobells... A Seed Combustible, and is the first album of a double release, the other being Leaving Your Body Map. While Bath and Leaving Your Body Map aren't really a double album, they were released together because the albums are very much tied together thematically and stylistically, and while they are totally separate pieces of music, they complement each other in ways no other albums have been able to do. I'll explain this interdependence in more detail in the Leaving Your Body Map review.

maudlin of the Well's style can best be described as "avant-garde metal", but this doesn't totally describe the immense amount of diversity found within their music. A couple of different metal styles are prominent, most noticeably death metal, doom metal, and progressive metal, but interwoven between these metal sections can be found elements of everything from post rock, indie rock, psych/space, and ambient, to jazz, funk, fusion, classical, and chamber rock. Shifts in style are found between tracks and often inside songs themselves; tracks can go from blazing death metal to mellow funk, from trippy space sections to jazzy progressive rock, all within the context of a song. From a description standpoint the transitions sound very jarring and poorly constructed, but incredibly, they work. And they work outstandingly well. I'll explain more during the track-by-track breakdown.

Instrumentally the album is very sound, and all the pieces are performed admirably and complement each other excellently. In addition to the traditional guitar, bass, and drums of a metal band, other untraditional instruments, like the saxophone, flute, clarinet, horn, and church organ, make their way into the song lines. The instruments are played well and do an excellent job complementing the mood and composition of the song. Herein lies one of maudlin of the Well's strengths: while they have very strong experimental and avant-garde tendencies, they never lose sight of the fact that they are a metal band at heart. We still get enough strong riffing, excellent headbanging melodies, and impressive soloing to counteract the heavy experimentation, ultimately creating a fine line between the metal and avant-garde, one from which the band impressively never teeters off of.

Lyrically this album is ridiculously strong. The lyrics, in all sung or spoken forms, are actual poetry, and have a very mystical nature to them, inspiring impressive or wondrous images relating to the theme (more on this later). The poetry itself is very sharp and at times incredibly beautiful, complementing the beautiful nature of the music very well. Three singers are heard on the album: Jason Byron, the primary composer of the lyrics, provides the harsh death metal growls. Toby Driver, the primary musical composer and frontman of the band, sings a clean lead and occasionally provides screams to back up Byron. They are complemented by a female vocalist who sings on a few tracks. Byron's growls are very good, deep and throaty, and provide for some interesting balancing acts in the music. Toby Driver provides an incredible range of vocals, ranging from soft, indie-rock-esque clean vocals, high, angelic vocals, and bone-chilling screams, all of which are done incredibly well. The female vocals are almost operatic and are similarly effective.

While not a concept album, both Bath and Leaving Your Body Map thematically deal with the concept of astral projection and lucid dreaming. Indeed, at the time of the album's release, Toby Driver advocated astral projection as the main mode of composition for the album. Allow me to briefly explain: astral projection is a practice held in certain esoteric beliefs that (in concept) allows the practitioner to separate their physical body from their ethereal spirit (this ties into Leaving Your Body Map's name), which then has free realm amongst the heavens. They believe that there exists a sort of cosmic "library" in the astral plane (the spirit's theoretical plane of existence), where all forms of art are already in existence, catalogued, if you will, in this massive archive. This makes the composer of the music more of a vessel between the astral plane's music and our realm. Driver has explained that their goal as a band wasn't to "compose" music per se, rather, to interpret this preexisting music into a worldly form through astral projection by means of lucid dreaming. Whether you buy this concept or not is up to you, but there is something to be said about the subject of dream compositions. There is something incredibly awe-inspiring about the music on Bath, however. Everything has a sort of spacey undertone to it; maybe it's the spacey keys, but something about this album definitely seems otherworldly. It's rather tough to describe, but something about the album just feels as though it's... inspired. Like it took a form of its own. It's not a pleasant or trippy kind of spacey either as is seen in your typical psych/space rock, but rather, it has a very eerie, spooky, almost malevolent feel to it, like it was composed by some great evil entity in the astral planes. These horrifically mystifying undertones are absolutely titillating and give the album its incredible otherworldly feel. Nothing I have ever heard before is comparable, it's really necessary to discover this through listening to the album by one's self.

There are a few other themes explored in the album's lyrics, all similar in topic, dealing with things such as the mysteries of death, salvation, eternality, and mysticism, though all through a non-religious lens. Also present are themes of relationships and love, though what it is symbolic of I can never know. The band has never explicitly stated what many of the lyrics mean. I will attempt to interpret the meanings of this album in a track-by-track analysis.

The album opens with "The Blue Ghost / Shedding Qliphoth", an instrumental piece. This very spacey piece opens with some soft false guitar harmonics, followed by some soft, echoic, and very spacey guitar chords. There's some phenomenal spacey ambience in the first part of the track, and eventually some light percussion kicks in, accompanied by some floaty backing acoustic guitar. A very jazzy, smooth saxophone plays a soothing lead. The piece gradually builds up, adding some background keys and ambience before the percussion becomes heavy and the guitar distortion kicks in, creating a sort of heavy metal version of the original melody. The transition is loud and initially jarring, but it does an excellent job setting up for what will inevitably be a shock on the next track. A spacey keyboard closes the final note.

What comes next is totally unexpected. "They Aren't All Beautiful" begins with some background guitar distortion before kicking into a whirlwind of furious death metal. Blast beats, machine-gun bass pedal, heavy guitar riffs and Byron's relentless growling provide a stark contrast to the otherwise peaceful intro to the album. What follows is some otherwise excellent death metal; awesome chugging riffs and evil vocals make for a riotous headbanging fest for a minute or so. Eventually the rhythm seriously slows down with some heavy grinding riffs, that has a lot of start-and-stop heaviness. Driver's screams are incredibly effective here, with some very awesome lyrics related to what appears to be the imitation and interpretation of art. Eventually this stops, however, and the song turns sort of mellow. A groovy bassline and less chugging guitars make for a cool funky section before a super-jazzy baritone saxophone joins the fray and creates a very cool funky metal section that goes quiet before one last evil death metal section at the end of the song. This is probably the heaviest piece the band has composed.

"Heaven and Weak" is one of the strongest tracks on the album and opens with a very soft, jazzy rock piece that has some interesting folksy acoustic guitar lines and an unidentifiable plucky string instrument, possibly a violin, but it's not easily discernible because the instrument is plucked. Some soft synth and strong echoic vocals from Driver make a very soothing piece for the first few minutes. Eventually the percussion and guitar distortion kick in in a way similar to on the first track. This continues with soothing vocals and a wailing guitar before the whole deal quickly turns sinister. A fast and wailing guitar solo and a drum roll leads into a very hectic heavy metal section. The metal here is seriously awesome: fast, heavy, and with some excellent riffage. Eventually the metal turns into a synth-fueled proggy section with some very crazed-sounding vocals on Driver's part. Before the song ends we get a cool breakdown, although that isn't the right word for it, but an amazing breakdown nonetheless that only involves a clean guitar and strong percussion.

"Interlude 1" is a short piece (~1:30) with some light acoustic guitar, guitar percussion, and upright bass. It's very pleasant and an effective interlude that's fun, upbeat and catchy.

The soft interlude is contrasted by the loud intro to the next song, "The Ferryman", which opens with a grand church organ. Some eerie organ music gives way to an absolute break in music that starts with some soft drumming. A very soft guitar line joins some soft jazzy drumming for a brief spell before the song suddenly and abruptly erupts into a twisted heavy metal section, with some doomy riffs and evil-sounding growls, backed by shrill screams. This is a short section that eventually turns into a percussion driven rock section with operatic female vocals and the church organ backing the melody. Eventually the rest of the music fades away, leaving a lone organ note that fades to the sound of water sifting around (not in a river or anything, it could actually be in a bathtub given the timbre of the water sloshing) inside a container as creepy chanting begins to build. This chanting turns into an incredibly creepy cacophony of incomprehensible suffocating voices that all die at the same moment, leaving just the eerie sound of water being circled around and the sound of it inside an echoing chamber. Given the title and the post-music section, I'm inclined to believe that this album is about the death cycle, the bath water and the chilling voices being the damned souls drowning in the River Styx, reaching out for aid as the Ferryman (the one whose boat guides a soul's passage into the netherworld) passes over silently. How this relates to the idea of astral projection I'm not totally sure but it does relate to the themes of birth and rebirth found later in the album.

The echoing water noises segue into the next track, "Marid's Gift of Art", that is a soft piece with some excellent folksy guitars and some rather beautiful lyrics provided by a soft-voiced Driver. Eventually a horn lead takes over vocals and a bowed bass create a somewhat neoclassical feel to the song. It's over rather quickly, and while the song isn't weak at all, it may be comparatively the weakest track on the album.

What follows next is an absolute behemoth of an emotional piece, "Girl with a Watering Can". It starts off with a soothing clarinet solo piece that eventually leads into a light, post- rock-ish section with light percussion and some interesting guitar layering. Some spacey synth adds a light bit of unease or tension to this pleasant piece before some pretty female vocals kick in. The drumming is good on this track so far, and eventually this section ends as a softer metal section kicks in, with some heavier drumming. The vocals here suddenly become rather echoic, Toby Driver chiming in on the high points, and the continued guitar layering and strong harmonies make for some very beautiful, albeit still unsettling music. Toby eventually takes lead with some soft vocals over a similar melody, that slowly fades off while a light guitar persists. Then, after a brief moment of silence, the melody is repeated with huge distortion, and a strong, high guitar lead and eerie keys create an amazing spacey metal section. Eventually this piece deconstructs into something softer with some soft, almost whispered vocals by Driver. This track is incredibly good; if ever there was such thing as "beautiful metal", then "Girl with a Watering Can" would be it, mixing beautiful melodies with crushing doses of heaviness and creating a really emotional piece of music.

Up next is the 11 minute epic "Birth Pains of Astral Projection." The piece starts out with a soft, pleasant melody that continues for a few minutes. The tone is generally pretty happy, but after a few minutes the tone of the piece turns somewhat sinister. It gets a bit heavier and some layered vocals by Driver turn into a creepy chanting section. A wailing guitar and some spacey keys give this section a very ethereal feel before Jason Byron enters the scene again. His growls here are a bit more bellowy than usual, but he makes them sound incredibly sinister and vicious, even over a comparatively light section. It makes for an interesting balance, and Toby's backing screams are absolutely furious. This continues for a bit until it enters a softer section. Toby does his indie rocker voice over a soft melody with an excellent bassline. By the end of the song this melody amplifies into something much stronger with an impressive guitar solo. The soft section resumes for a brief spell with some interesting lyrics before fading out on a soft key note. The song's title here is a clear reference to the astral projection theme, and the "birth pains" may be some sort of reference to whatever unknown process may be required for astral projection to occur; it could be a reference to the fifth and six tracks' themes, with the ultimate process be dying in some literal or metaphysical way required for the separation of body from spirit into the astral planes.

"Interlude 2" is an absolutely wonderful little song. It opens up with, interestingly enough, the sound of someone slapping their hands on the surface of some water container, and this actually becomes the percussion section of the song. A punchy upright bass, a cheery acoustic guitar, and some playful piano lines make this almost a happy little bathtime ditty. As the music fades out, a very beautiful synth note lingers for a brief moment, retaining the happy feel that the interlude generates.

"Geography" is the epic conclusion to an epic album, and it's an incredibly beautiful piece of music, with some sorrowful acoustic guitar and some rather sad vocals from Driver. The lyrics here are also particularly beautiful. The song is relatively simple, but by the time it reaches a finale, all the instruments and vocals and come together for one last grand rush, all swirling together into a wondrously beautiful conclusion to a stunning album.

I'm going to be a bit biased here. I know this review is incredibly long, and I'd be surprised if anyone actually made it this far, but this is truly one of the most incredible pieces of music ever written. The album is phenomenally well done and incredibly consistent, and with so much material covered as well. It's a truly beautiful and moving masterpiece and such a shame that an unbelievably talented band will remain so obscure in the annals of musical history.

Unfortunately maudlin of the Well will be doomed to obscurity. The music on this album is far too inaccessible and varied for most audiences to enjoy, but if you fancy yourself a hardened music listener, or are looking for something truly original, look no further. It's very hard to find a hard copy of this album but if you do manage to find one, you'd be remiss not to take the opportunity.

Absolute highest five-star rating easily deserved, and it has my utmost recommendations for any fan of experimental music or anyone willing to challenge themselves with a difficult but thoroughly rewarding listen.

Standout tracks: Every single one.

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Send comments to NecronCommander (BETA) | Report this review (#303817)
Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Admin / Heavy Prog Team / Math Rock Team
5 stars Brave the ethereal waters

Maudlin of the Well have long been known as masters of the avant-garde rock scene. Toby Driver, the mastermind behind it all, has sadly only created four albums with the stunning group, and each is incredible in its own right. Bath, the first album in a duology released in 2001 (the other album being Leaving your Body Map), has emerged as one of the greatest showings of avant-garde rock in the history of rock. Furthering this band's incredible musical vision initiated in 1999 with their odd, abrasive debut My Fruit Psychobelis...A Seed Combustible, Driver emerged with this album a new, refreshing flower of the purest sublime beauty. Mixing the gentle melodies of aerial grace with the crushing fury of Avant metal, the album is truly a gem in the swirl of experimental mush that can often be produced by artists such as these. Musically, the album is absolutely genius, deconstructing every barrier music theory has put up for them, yet at the same time adhering to every rule there is. The music is truly like a swan with his wings clipped, who flies into the skies above only to grovel in the dirt, still beautiful in form but marred in a graceful way. The album shows an incredible amount of complexity, from the dense harmonic value to the gentle melodies contrasted by crushing death metal, to the ambiguous and powerful lyrics. The entire album is truly an unmatched piece of musical beauty, and is easily one of the most innovative and incredible albums ever produced.

Earlier in the review I called the music Avant-garde rock/metal. This is really a blanket term, a failed attempt to summarize this band's incredibly diverse style. To truly describe the band would be virtually impossible. They fuse so much into their music it would make any seasoned listener's head spin. From classical to death metal to acoustic rock to progressive rock to sludge metal to psychedelic rock to progressive metal to doom metal to jazz to nearly every other genre anyone has ever heard of into an amalgamous mess of absolute sheer beauty. The seven piece band has crafted some of the most unique music even in single tracks. For example, the song "The Ferryman" begins with a haunting Baroque-style organ piece, before breaking into a soft, jazz tinged piece of indie rock before transitioning into a mind-blowingly heavy piece of death metal. To be frank, it's insane.

The insanity of the music is complemented by the music's incredible complexity. Each track, full of incredible dynamic shifts and near countless styles shoved into a short period of time, is incredibly musically dense and complex. The harmonies are classically composed, with each of the seven members of the band doing a small part to compose the incredible harmonies. Vocally the melodies vary from sung to spoken word, with lyrics wavering in intense poetic complexity. The concept of the album is loose, and varies somewhere around a dream state and astral projections (aka out-of-body experiences). The lyrics themselves are poetry, often in broad, free-flowing prose, with incredible imagery and meaning behind them, often seeming so complex as to be ambiguous and "unbreakable" in meaning. This only enhances the mysterious atmosphere of this album, the dreamy, often spacey and moving feeling about the music. This album is the dreamier side of the duology of albums, with LYBM being much more metallically dense than this album.

Overall, this album is a pure masterpiece. Composed of some of the most complex and beautiful music ever to grace the planet, the album shall sadly never be truly be appreciated by many. The insane amount of complexity, depth, and dynamic of this album have doomed it to obscurity as so few people could possibly enjoy it. However, the album remains one of the most beloved cult albums to grace the progressive community. The album is so incredibly amazing its own glory seems to be mystified by its sheer beauty. In the end, I believe 5 stars are not enough for this album. This is the type of album that cannot be tied down to a standard rating system. You cannot tack a title to this album. It is not truly a "masterpiece," as the definition of that word goes. It is an ethereal alignment of conterminal stars, each shining brightly through the musical world. It really isn't "music," as the definition of that word goes. It is noise, so graceful as never to be touched yet so abrasive as never to be listenable. I cannot fathom a conclusion to the epicness of this album. It truly saddens me to think that this group is no longer producing music. But before I truly ramble off into the same obscurity in which this album is damned, I shall rate it. This album is perfect. 5+ stars.

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Send comments to Andy Webb (BETA) | Report this review (#463524)
Posted Friday, June 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The Dark, Moody Brother is the Better Catch

Maudlin of the Well's twin juggernaut of BATH and LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP are cut from the exact same cloth. It is almost as if the album had been recorded and then the entire project lost in a flood. Then the band attempted to reconstruct it from a dim memory. While both are basically the prototypes for avant-metal, LYBM is a bit more straightforward and memorable. BATH is a little more difficult to get into at first listen, but it's the one that you come back to again and again. It's the one that truly moves the soul.

A perfect example is the opener "Blue Ghost." Toby Driver's signature sound is exactly the same as found on the Red Album, but here he takes alot longer to develop and set the mood. The first time I heard it, it was too long. It's subtler, lulling you in, and when we get the monster hit of extreme metal of "They Aren't All Beautiful," the assault is more dramatic and you're left more bloody. The blast beats and blackish tremolo picking is covered with more layering, and the piece simply bests the more deathish turn on BM. There is also an echoey bridge that is beautiful and memorable all while the earth crumbles around it.

As amazingly daring as BODY MAP is, BATH takes bigger risks and reaps bigger rewards. In fact, I might argue that this is Driver at his absolute peak. Avant garde music treads a knife edge of pointless chaos and a tether of order. This is the point, for me, where Driver still teeters deliciously before falling off the edge with Kayo Dot. Though his current project has its moments, he's never struck the balance so effectively without his Maudlin bandmates. (Part the Second was much less risky but so beautiful that it reached masterpiece status on completely different grounds).

To be clear, BATH is not an easy listen. Dissonance, chaos, lyrical themes of death and astral projection, extended sections of water noises...not exactly Lady Gaga here. This is for music enthusiasts who enjoy delving into the far reaches. But if extreme metal AND avant-jazz have a place in your exploration, BATH may be a treasure for your ears.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#639468)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Though I do find Maudlin of the Well's music rather touching at times, I can't help but feel that Bath comes across more as a random jumble of songs suggesting directions the band might have chosen to excel at had they focused on them as opposed to being a cohesive work in its own right. It's all quite technically precise and the various songs are alright examples of the forms they present - the death metal bits are OK death metal, the post-rock parts are OK post- rock and so on - but I can't help but wonder what could have resulted if the band had just picked a direction and stuck with it.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#645823)
Posted Sunday, March 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
1 stars Name of the Examinee - maudlin of the Well -Bath

Date of Report - 7/16/2012

Examiner - Dr. Prog

Referral Question/Reason For Testing

Maudlin of the Well was referred to me by many of his friends after I had written a diagnosis of depression for him based on his work, Part the Second. His friends insisted I had misdiagnosed him, and if I would just give an evaluation based on his work in Bath, I would see why.

Examinee Background Information

Maudlin's works deal primarily with astral projection - he describes his approach to music as trying to "find" it rather than "compose" it. He actively practices the techniques of astral projection and lucid dreams, from which he claims to be able to "bring back" pre-existing music from the astral plane.

Notes from the Doctor's Examination

Maudlin came into my office, and he was quite calm at first. As we chatted, I was struck by an immediate sense of what an incredibly pleasant, calm, well-adjusted person he was, and after 7 or so minutes, I began to wonder if I had, indeed, misdiagnosed him, or perhaps he had undergone treatment and was cured. Then he began to describe to me some ideas of his that seemed a little out of the ordinary, though still coherent. However, his ideas began to make less and less sense, and then he abruptly underwent a dramatic personality change and became very agitated - his words flowing quickly in an angry tone. Over the course of the next few minutes, I began to feel as if I were talking to a completely different person than the one who had walked through my door a few minutes before. The ideas he expressed and the reasons for his anger seemed logical, but it was such a sudden transformation that I felt as one who had walked out of a movie to visit the loo during a quiet scene and returned to chaos, bewildered and confused as to what had occurred during my absence. As quickly as this started, it stopped, and he became unnervingly peaceful and calm again. He began speaking lovingly and peacefully to what seemed to be a child, much as a loving father would do. No sooner had this finished, than his character transformed once again into what I can only describe as the mythical creature - the faun. He pranced around the office as if he were dancing in a meadow for a few minutes...and then he stopped and his eyebrow raised in a somewhat sinister expression. Over the course of the next few minutes one of the strangest things I have beheld in my office occurred - it seemed I was witnessing two personalities manifesting themselves in the same person at the same time, both speaking simultaneously. Once again, he was instantly calm and collected. He spoke in a very normal, quiet tone, and the effect was eerie, after having witnessed the mood changes from moments before. But nothing could prepare me for what happened next - quite suddenly Maudlin screamed in quite a painful and frightening shriek, and then his voice took on a gutteral tone. It did not sound at all like I was speaking to the same person any more - at times his voice sounded like multiple voices at once, some screaming in pain, some growling in hatred, some quite sinister and others quite frightened out of their minds. I was quite frightened - frozen in place, unable to move or react. I wondered if I were witnessing a man possessed by another entity...or an even more horrifying idea - many entities. As suddenly as this had begun, Maudlin's personality once again changed quite suddenly and he resembled a sane, coherent, normal person. These dramatic changes convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was at the very least speaking to a very unstable man, one who was a danger to himself and to others. But this idea was not what had me frightened for my life, as I have seen many unstable patients before. What had me scared witless was what I had witnessed moments before - the only way I can describe what had transpired was that it seemed that Maudlin had been taken over and controlled for a few moments by a tortured, hateful creature whose only desire was to see all it came into contact with undergo the same pain and torture it had undergone. A being of pure spite and evil who had no logic or reason, but only wanted to see harm come to me. These events put me in a state of frozen panic, and I broke out in a cold sweat and began to tremble. I stopped the exam short, made up a very flimsy sounding excuse I'm sure, and rushed home in quite a state of shock.

Nightmares haunted me in my sleep, and I woke many times throughout the night. The next day, however, I told myself that I was a professional and could handle this. I convinced myself there was a scientific explanation for what I had witnessed, and determined to finish my examination of the patient. I scheduled a second appointment with Maudlin. This time, he entered the room and as he spoke to me, he had an accent I had not noticed before...it sounded like...hillbilly. Then, suddenly, the accent disappeared, and he spoke quite lazily, almost listlessly. But his tone began to take on more tension and intensity. But he calmed again, and then as he spoke to me, it was as if he was talking to me from very far away, or as if we were talking on the telephone with a bad connection. He seemed as one who was not actually present in the room, almost like a hologram of himself. He stopped speaking, and the strangest thing occurred...he began to dance, wordlessly, in an ethnic fashion. This continued for a few minutes, and then he stopped and raised an eyebrow, turning to me with an expression on his face that was filled with hate and intention of harm. Quite suddenly he began to leap about the room, smashing things and throwing them about as an animal, screaming in a guttural fashion. His strength was inhuman - I, of course, had immediately called in the orderlies, but we were not able to restrain him - he was able to cast us off as a fully grown adult casts off small children clinging to him. The group of us were barely able to restrain him, and his tortured screams were the stuff of nightmare. But in the space of seconds he changed his tone to one that sounded...playful. This was only the more frightening as the sinister personality we had just witnessed was still shining through the playful tones, and then once again he shrieked in an other-worldly voice at us in pure spite and hatred, threatening all kinds of unspeakable evil. One of the orderlies, of course, drugged him, and after the drugs seemingly took affect he drifted off peacefully, or so we thought. We began to drag him towards a holding cell, but he suddenly leapt out of our arms with inhuman strength, shrieking and growling once again with seemingly multiple voices of hate and tortured pain and fright. As he did, the lights in the hallway began to flicker on and off as if a catastrophic thunderstorm were affecting the electrical work...and Maudlin then began to sing in the voice of...a woman, and as he did so, he began to float up into the air, and a wind blew through the hallways, smashing the doors open and shut with its strength. We all cowered on the floor as this occurred around us, quite frightened for our lives, and as the fury intensified, we closed our eyes in fright. The wind stopped, but we heard many voices around us speaking menacingly. They were not coming from a singular location, but were all around us, speaking in a language none of us could understand, and they did not resemble any known languages either - it was as if we were hearing the voices from another plane of existence. The voices faded away, and as some of us dared to open our eyes, we saw that Maudlin was nowhere in sight. It was as if the strange events from moments before had never even occurred - the hallway lights were on, and there was no mess to clean in my office. Maudlin has since not been seen by any of us - it was as if all we had witnessed had been merely a dream. But this cannot erase the fearful images I have witnessed, and I hope and pray I shall never come into contact with Maudlin ever again.

Back to reality

Being (somewhat) serious now - I found this album to be quite unsettling, especially after I researched it and found out the ideas behind the music and how it was "discovered." Before I had done my research, I thought the music was quite strange, and afterwards I felt it was quite frightening. So as you can see, my meeting with Maudlin of the Well was a very unnerving experience for me, and one I do not wish to repeat, but there is no telling how he reacts in front of other people in other settings, so others may have a completely different experience.

Originally written for www.seaoftranquility.org

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Send comments to dtguitarfan (BETA) | Report this review (#790116)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Companion release to Leaving Your Bodymap, I find it quite difficult to articulate why it is that I am more attracted to the former than to Bath. They both certainly have songs and sections that are totally mind- and soul-blowing. Bath may actually have sections that are more beautiful than those of Bodymap but I think Bath's lows are just lower.

1. "The Blue Ghost, Shedding Qliphoth" (7:57) starts the album off quite mellowly, very delicate acoustic guitar play, when drums finally come in, during the fifth minute, they are played with brushes. Saxes play gently. Beautiful guitar melodies. Quite a deceptive intro for what is to come at the 6:42 mark (and later--in the next song). A nice song even though it is a bit drawn out. (9/10)

2. "They Aren't All Beautiful" (5:37) is pure doom metal, growl singing, screams, machine gun bass drum play, and loud metal guitar power chords. Still, the song is filled with many bizarre and very fleeting twists--acoustic, ambient pauses, and jazzy chord twangs. Not my favorite TD song. (6/10)

3. "Heaven and Weak" (7:43) begins mellowly, almost acoustic jazz-like, with a bass, acoustic guitar and jazz-style drum kit. MICHAEL FRANKS-like beautiful male voice enters at the 1:30 mark. Song gets amped up into heavy rock at the three minute mark and soon begins to sound a little FRANK ZAPPA-ish--even DEVIN TOWNSEND-like. Amazing guitar riffs at 4:30 introduce full-blown metal dance. Treated voice takes the lead at 5:34, song comes a little down, then a bridge/interlude of harmonics and snare and bass drum beating before everything escalates into full-blown space shredding. Cue DEVIN to close. (8/10)

4. "(Interlude 1)" (1:38) is a slighlty jazzy instrumental of two acoustic guitars with delicate wah-pedaled electric guitar lead taking the melody over the top. Nice song! (9/10)

5. "The Ferryman" (7:51) opens with some dramatic and ominous solo organ play. This gives way in the second minute to some very subtly played drums which are then joined around the 1:30 mark by some equally delicate guitars, strummed and soloed. Then at 2:40 the wall of metal comes crashing in--with three different metal voices: a growler, a screamer, and a couple of melancholy disembodied ghosts. The fourth voice, a female, is actually quite lovely if a bit pitchy. The reappearance of the organ--over/under the metal thrashing--is quite cool, and supports the ghostly feel of the voices quite nicely--and actuallly takes the metal edge off of the guitar play, bringing them down to almost "rock" level. The Harry Potter-like death voices in the watery cave in the final minute are a bit bizarre, but, I guess, very effective in perpetuating and completing that Charon/River Styx theme here. (8/10)

6. "Marid's Gift of Art" (3:42) sounds of water splashes and drips (carrying over from Charon's pole-work of the previous song) opens the song before a pleasant, laid back picked/strummed acoustic guitar and background electric fade in. The vocal (to a child?) begins around 1:20. The vocal mirrors the guitar work throughout. Nice trumpet and cello integration in the last half of the song. (8/10)

7. "Girl with A Watering Can" (8:45) opens with some beautiful folkish solo from a read instrument (bassoon?) before an equally beautiful band sets up a full, delicate foundation for the beautiful female voice (the "Girl"?) to join in around the 1:30 mark. The tempo seems to be being played with a bit as the girl sings her tale, yet the constant bass rhythm betrays the truth. Very interesting. A coda and bridge into a new section is accomplished with the use of a sequence of heavy guitar chords. The new stand on which the female singer pours forth her public voice is still quite lovely. At 5:30 a soft male voice takes over vocal lead, as if to tell his perspective of the Girl. At 6:20 a metal guitar and synth solo section are played out to great effect and emotional display. The final minute maintains that open pace while the soft- spoken male returns to sing about the girl's flower garden and his missing her. Great song! One of my three favorites on the album. (10/10)

8. "Birth Pains of Astral Projection" (10:35) opens with a guitar, bass and drum foundation which has a bit of an Old West flavor to it. Very soothing as if played next to the fire under the midnight stars. Gentle saxophone joins for a bit just before the two minute mark at the same time a single sustained and wavering note from an electric guitar screeches menacingly in the background. By 3:30 the song shifts into heavy metal mode (though ever retain some calmer, less frenetic quality to it) as the doom growl voices emerge. At 6:40 Toby and the beautiful music side comes back. Great guitar work (lead and rhythm) in the ninth minute. One of my other favorites. (10/10)

9. "(Interlude 2)" (2:13) uses the splashing in a bathtub for its rhythm track with acoustic guitar and horns. Nothing special and a little gimicky but okay. (8/10)

10. "Geography" (4:26) is acoustic guitar based with a straightforward Toby vocal and some Frippertronics-like electric guitar sliding around in the more dynamic parts. Nothing too extraordinary. (8/10)

A very good album with some great TD/moTW highlights, just not as mind-blowing as its sister album.

4.5 star album, rated down for its inconsistencies.

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#1083373)
Posted Friday, November 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Roundabot (BETA) | Report this review (#1091185)
Posted Tuesday, December 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars What a difference listening to music on a good pair of headphones makes. I have only heard this album a handful of times and it never really grabbed me. In fact it was hard to even focus on it because the dynamics are either too soft or too loud and I guess I was also distracted by multi-tasking. Well, the thing about headphones is that all these sounds I didn't even notice before that are in the tapestry of this album are now plain as day and apparently critical to the enjoyment level of this album. So in effect this album has transmogrified itself in my mind from a complete dud to one that I find somewhat interesting.

Having said that, I am in the camp that this isn't as developed as the KAYO DOT albums that follow which I prefer to MAUDLIN OF THE WELL. This album does showcase some interesting diversity with all the instruments and adopted genres in the mix. I guess the parts I like the best are the jazzy, post rock extensions that are a melodic and dissonant playground while the times they take a stab at death metal I find a little disingenuous simply because I am too familiar with death metal and this just doesn't cut it for me. Those parts I do find interesting with the metal are the bits when the post rock and metal overlap somewhat.

I really want to like this more but for me this boils down to being simply an interesting prelude to the more interesting KAYO DOT projects that develop the avant-garde and everything is properly mangled together to my liking where the timings, the timbres and the atmospheres feel genuinely more bizarre and alien. I think the two Interludes are possibly my favorite tracks on here.

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1100534)
Posted Thursday, December 26, 2013 | Review Permalink

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