Mar de Grises
The Tatterdemalion Express
posted on 2/2004 By:
Oh, how long it’s been since a doom record has proved both innovative and entirely pleasing to hear. Oh, how long it’s been since a doom record has taken more than a few casual spins to assimilate. If any genre can be labeled stale and mostly sterile, it’s doom metal. With mundane releases by bands like My Dying Bride in abundance, there’s rarely anything worthy of much excitement. All seem to feature the same melancholic vibe and with a plethora of clones, individuality is scarce. Mar De Grises is this year’s first exception, but hopefully not the last. The Tatterdemalion Express has been in constant rotation over the past few weeks and while it was initially pleasing, it’s become more and more gratifying a listen as its unique vibes and subtleties have made themselves more apparent.
Rooted firmly in doom, Chile’s Mar De Grises has made something odd and hugely diverse. The songs are huge, seven tracks nearing an hour, and they’re plentifully grandiloquent to keep from overstaying their welcome. The long-winded and subtle instrumental passages in between the more straightforward song oriented sections are the most notable feature that sets this band apart from others in the world of doom. They feature elements of psychedelia, neo-classical, and even what I might consider post rock. Every song’s core is melodic and extremely atmospheric, but that’s where the similarity ends. Some are borderline funeral doom, others are more melodic and mid-paced, and there are even a few forays into both death metal and even metalcore.
The production is very dense when necessary and crystal clear during mellower moments. It’s not perfect, but the desired wall of sound is achieved when necessary and overall its sound quality is far better than merely adequate. The guitar sound is crisp and strong, but the overall sound could be a bit more bass heavy. Piano/synths are very clear, though sometimes a bit overbearing, mostly when being used for atmosphere’s sake. The drumming is definitely exactly as it should be. Everything has exactly the punch that it needs and is exactly the right volume level for the music.
Mar De Grises is obviously made up of amply competent musicians. It takes more musicianship to be able to write such bizarre music than something more standard does, and the execution of these strangely beautiful songs is without flaw. The faster and more aggressive sections are superbly played, showcasing the fact that these guys are more than run of the mill doom. Though the more dirge-like sections and ambient interludes aren’t as dazzlingly technical as some others are, the necessary restraint is impressive nonetheless.
If you’ve gotten tired of nearly every doom album being nearly identical to many others, Mar De Grises is for you. If you’re tired of doom being instantly digestible and growing tiresome after far too few listens, Mar De Grises is for you. If, on the other hand, you don’t like any sort of adventurousness in your music and want to “get” exactly what the band is doing on first listen, stay away. Personally, I think this is an extremely gratifying listen that will likely continue to mature well for quite some time to come.
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