As much as anyone, I suppose, I love a good mixture of genres when it comes to metal. While I love the straight forward genres, I think that the blends show more multifaceted talent in the artist, as well as a deeper well of appreciation for metal in general. I know how that could be construed to look like I think those that play a straightforward genre (raw black metal, old school death, etc.) are less talented and that is of course ridiculous I merely mean that the talent is different. That being said I found a band called Mouth of Madness and being a huge fan of Lovecraft and John Carpenter I was pretty easily pulled in. Their self-titled album, released this year, could very well be some of the dirtiest blackened thrash that I have ever heard.
Mouth of Madness is exactly that, the sound is chaotic and cacophonous and it takes a seasoned ear to find what little melody there is within the music. That’s a good thing, at least for this kind of metal, because you want blackened thrash to be sort of chaotic and nasty. Would “Hell Awaits” have been as good as it was without the wildly shifting guitars, cheap production, or echoing vocals? The answer is, of course, no. That album was the hallmark of what blackened thrash strives for, even if Slayer left that sound a long, long time ago. Mouth of Madness is walking in the footsteps of giants with their brand of crazy, maddening brand of blackened thrash. While I can say a few months ago I would not have been a fan and maybe dismissed it out of hand as too poorly made. Now, though, while I don’t actively seek that kind of music out, when I do find it I embrace it for the messy awesomeness that it is.
The songs are not too long, the album itself felt like it was over before half an hour but within that space of time the band has a lot to say. The images invoked by the song titles are definitely Lovecraftian, while not necessarily the Cthulhu type, it has a thick cosmic madness and insanity vibe to it. The music too, with the fuzzy production buzzes like a horde of wasps around a corpse. The guitars are nasty and nasally, each sort of feeling like they are trying to out shred the other. The drums are a bit quiet and unremarkable but they lay enough foundation that the guitars have a sort of melodic framework to follow. The vocals were shrill and virulent, just what I would have expected from this genre and I was not disappointed. They might not go down as the best vocals in history but they are solid enough and they work best with the sort of distortions the guitars are giving off.
There isn’t much of a story to follow here which was a little disappointing, given that all things musically Lovecraftian has the potential to be a really good story, but I’m okay with that. Instead of a story, I was treated with a glimpse into a crazy, borderline psychotic world where danger, madness, and reason seem to follow very different paths. Maybe with time the stories within the album will come but even if they don’t Mouth of Madness has enough going for it that it really doesn’t need it to be successful. They have a pretty good formula for success.
Mouth of Madness is a good band, and a good first album, to let loose on. You can headbang to it, air guitar, all that stuff you might be too embraced to admit you do when you listen to the music. Mouth of Madness, hopefully, will be around for a while because I really, really enjoyed the experience and I think any fan of blackened thrash (especially the kind that’s heavy on the thrash attitude) will love.
Listen and support!