Mouth of the Architect
posted on 7/2008 By:
I was a bit hesitant to sign up for this at first, as this is my first real experience listening to Mouth of the Architect and I’m generally not big on reviewing higher profile bands that I’m not familiar with. With that said, I’m very big into the nebulous strain of post-metal that this band is a part of. While I don’t listen to Isis, Pelican, and Cult of Luna nearly as much as I did three or four years ago, I still hold a lot of appreciation for these kinds of bands and the atmosphere and heaviness that they can generate. And Mouth of the Architect’s newest album Quietly is a standout showing in this field as well.
This probably won’t come as a surprise to this outfit’s fans, as apparently this band is very highly regarded (a fact that would have spurred me to check them out sooner, had I been aware of it). And they deserve the acclaim; Mouth of the Architect packs some serious punch in their cascading, emotional epics, and even though I’m not as into this genre as I used to be, I can’t help but be moved by their work here.
Its notable how this band is able to progress past the usual formulas of their contemporaries, namely the whole “quiet buildup leading to earthshaking climax” structuring that we’ve all heard so much by now. While the soft-to-loud contrast that defines the post-metal movement is still here in full, Quietly’s compositions are more dynamic, and actually remind me more of the transcendent Neurosis than the bands I mentioned in my first paragraph (not to say that Neurosis has nothing in common with those bands, they’re just more experimental). Through the passionate screams of singer Jason Watkins, heavily hardcore-influenced but not annoyingly so, and the outfit’s intricate meshing of luminous lead guitar and crushing heaviness, these songs are given a depth and clarity that separates this band from the pack.
With songs themed around the frustration, anger, and emptiness felt by modern man in this age, Mouth of the Architect have crafted a musical work that is highly diverse and expressive. Quietly is more about the overall experience of the album than individual “wow” moments, though there are certainly a couple of those; the bitter lyrical musings and aggressive chugging heard in “Hate and Heartache,” or the beautiful melodic riffs and light female singing that introduce the amazing “Generation of Ghosts,” the album’s standout track. While a fairly long and demanding record, the pace is broken up nicely thanks to the presence of two effective piano interludes, “Pine Boxes” and “Medicine,” the former containing some haunting sampling that creates an atmosphere of both relaxation and unease. The monstrous “Quietly” and “A Beautiful Corpse” bookend the work with some of the heaviest material on the album, and Mouth of the Architect are just as adept at conjuring crushing gravity as they are at sparse melody. The subtle keyboard and sampling additions and the intricate basslines give the songs all the extra touches needed to make this an album that truly demands careful, repeated listening.
With their great sense of dynamics and an ability to express emotion that exceeds many of their contemporaries, Mouth of the Architect seems poised to become a major player in their field. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Quietly since I haven’t been listening to this kind of stuff lately, and while I won’t say that this is one of the best albums in the post-metal genre, it's definitely a cut above the latest offerings by Isis and Pelican. Most impressive.
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