Release DetailsLABEL Aural Music
RELEASED ON 11/29/2004
posted on 1/2005 By:
This may well be the most frustrating album I’ve ever had to review - easy to genrefy as prog-metal, but difficult to pin down beyond that. Then again, prog-metal bands don’t like to be easy on the ear preferring rather to challenge it. Mechanical Poet succeeds on that front with Woodland Prattlers, but the end result may be a bit too disjointed even for lovers of the genre.
A concept album of sorts, the tracks here each center around a forest and it’s dwellers, with the musical scope of each ranging from heavy to morose and all points in between, sandwiched in between orchestral “Main Titles” and “End Credits”. The first actual song, “Stormchild” sounds a lot like Eldritch musically, with its guitar and drum sounds, and may lead you to believe that you’re in for some crushing, non-wussy prog-metal here. “Bogie in a Coal Hole” scales back the power just a bit but remains in the same vein and adds some clean piano and acoustic parts, before the album does a 180 into the minstrel style of “Sirens from the Underground” and the gentle piano interlude “Will O the Wisp”. Then it’s back to business for “Strayed Moppet” and “Old Years Merry Funeral”. The 11-minute “Natural Quaternion” encapsulates everything you’ve heard so far, but the parts don’t seem to fit together cleanly. “Shades on a Casement” takes things back to the mellow, while “Swamp Stamp Polka” sticks out as the shortest song here with a variety of different voices, perhaps meant to represent the various woodland dwellers coming together for a celebration just like the final scene of “Return of the Jedi”, because next up are the end credits.
Mechanical Poet isn’t doing a whole lot of innovation here, but they do what they do rather well. They certainly have the talent and ability to write an epic masterpiece, but I think they still have some work to do. They say they wrote and modified these songs while in the studio but sometimes it sounds like they were pieced together over time. The ones that sound best are without a lot of frills – “Stormchild”, “Bogie in a Coal Hole”, and “Swamp Stamp Polka”. Proceed with caution, but I have a feeling their follow up will be the one to get.
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