Mouth of the Architect
The Violence Beneath
posted on 4/2010 By:
Mouth of the Architect enjoys flip-flopping their approach a bit. Their understated debut led them to be lumped in with the lighter faction of the post-metal movement, but The Ties That Blind revealed a penchant for actual prog rock elements and a much heavier, riff-oriented guitar technique, rendering the term progressive sludge far more appropriate. It was thus surprising when 2008’s Quietly was in many ways a subdued and softer effort, moving back towards standard post fare. Again shifting course, and continuing their what’s-in-a-name titular methodology is The Violence Beneath. This EP returns to and surpasses the heaviness of Ties, but most importantly, it provides a half-hour of utterly engrossing music.
Much like Moonsorrow’s epic Tulimyskry, this is a clinic of extended-play construction: some wildfire new material, a great live recording (which is actually another new song), and a stylized cover of a well-known rock classic. With sludge and vocals all on the downbeat, the title track instantly shows a return to heftier, somewhat more immediate territory. Signature Mouth of the Architect riff stylings can be heard throughout: guitar melodies that seem to circle around themselves, sometimes harmonizing and sometimes not, with bass providing a countermelody and the drums a varying foundation. Proggier aspirations are at work in “Buried Hopes,” the obvious centerpiece and an absolute monument within their career. The extended intro of acoustic guitars and sung vocals eventually gives way to a driving force, a gorgeous dropout-and-crescendo, and a chilling climactic weave of high twin harmonies and brilliant rhythm section work. This dynamic expanse is enhanced by the individual performances, with all members possessing subtlety and depth, especially drummer Kevin Schindel. A particularly meaty production and balanced mix also helps to augment the compositions.
Following is “Restore,” a live recording with only hints of crowd noise and no loss of clarity or balance. If anything, the open-air atmosphere adds to the eerie mood, which is slightly less heavy than previous tracks but no less compelling. A beautiful passage of descending themes accentuates the band’s chemistry, building to yet another killer finish. A cover of the Peter Gabriel classic “In Your Eyes” closes the affair. As unmetal as it comes, to be sure, but the musical quality and implied atmosphere of the original lend it to be an ideal candidate for a reimagining in this style. Mouth of the Architect utilizes the ebb and flow technique much more here, stretching out each phrase and limiting how much they reach into the anvil bucket until the end.
The post-prog-sludge-ambient-bootgaze category may have slowed down on its intense hype in recent years, but many of the higher profile acts are still writing releases of great quality. Pencil in The Violence Beneath as another; Mouth of the Architect employs the EP format to near perfection. Fans of the style and band have no excuse not to pick this up, and the uninitiated can view it as a less-dreamy introduction to the genre. It’s heavy as shit, beyond dynamic, and a great addition to an already top-notch career.
Like all good music of its ilk, this is both instantly memorable and infinitely deep, crafting the formula for durable listening. Durable, and riveting.
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