This is one really strange, in ways that I haven’t heard before, record. The two brothers that comprise the out-there black metal duo of MAMALEEK (San Francisco) have taken a leap of faith right into what, might, even be a modern rock (of some kind) masterpiece. VIADOLOROSA is filled with gorgeous jazz guitar playing, vocals that trade off between witchy blackened screeches and a pitched down speak-sing monotone, left turns into experimental electronic music (even hip hop beats) and industrial, ritualistic thud/ introspection. If someone was explaining this record to me, as I am to you, I would probably start looking away, confused, immediately running from the music being described (in my mind anyway). BUT! MAMALEEK is the exception in every way, successfully blending everything from ambient hip-hop, to experimental jazz guitar, to the organic industrial nature of the likes of FATHER MURPHY, with black metal. The latter genre only represented here by the earlier mentioned blackened vocals.
The many feels successfully offered through the 9 songs of VIADOLOROSA give it that “next level” kind of album glow. “Nothing But Loss” feels like a blackened Eno rock song that then morphs into Young Marble Giants territory, only with pitched down, downer male vocals. “Pain As Providence” comes with a blackened Beefheart delivery. Belligerence, over a drunken jazz duo, the rumbling tones of a faint synthesizer hovering nearby, acting as if they don’t exist. Catch the groove on “What’s Left.” And the extended drone passage in “Χριστός Latmiya”! Bashing beat, guitar meandering of a beauty rough, the sound of a night chase along the Seine… ending in madness obviously.
I’ll say: early-Ween backed by an eccentric post-rock/jazz combo. The upright bass playing all over this record is amazing.
And then I’ll also say: the presence of the upright bass, and the positive alchemy of such disparate aesthetics and sounds conjures thoughts of VAN MORRISON sitting down with a few jazz heads, and knocking out fucking Astral Weeks.
Can San Francisco share some of their amazing eccentric, and exploratory metal bands with the rest of the country?? THE FLENSER is hording them! Another amazing release by that most innovative heavy music label (located, where else, in San Francisco). Will be a favorite of mine for a long while.