Last November, I went to the Rhythmden Fest in Poughkeepsie, and saw a wide array of incredible bands including Shai Hulud, Converge, Municipal Waste, and Modern Life Is War. There were three venues connected, and subsequently, there were usually at least 2 bands playing at any given time, forcing you to make a judgement call against one band to see another.
Mabus was one of those bands I hadn't heard of, shrugged it off and said, "ah, I'm probably not missing much of anything." How wrong I was. How very, very wrong I was.
Cheers, To Doomsday Gloom is in my CD player as we speak letting me know just how wrong I in fact was. The fact of the matter is this -- this band rips. Elements of grind, tech-metal, and a heavy jazz influence all come together beautifully to make this record not only diverse, but extremely fluid and extremely cohesive. That's usually the main problem a band like this has -- you can play a million miles an hour, but to make an interesting song, let alone album, is a different venture entirely. Luckily, Mabus have no such problems.
First and foremost, all members of this band are incredible musicians. I'm not talking in the basic guitar wankery sense of things, either, I mean these guys are damn good musicians. Some of the time signature changes on this record are liable to make your head explode out of sheer amazement, and what's more is they aren't gratuitous starts and stops for the sake of it -- they really feel fluid in the path and direction of their respective songs. The band knows when to turn it up to 11, and when to take things back down a few notches and let everyone catch their breath. Wasting no time to let the listener become acclimated with their crushing sound, "One's Nosedive Is Another's Parade" bursts out of the gate with some thunderous drum fills and the raspy scream of vocalist Shane Cashman. Cashman's voice is one of the more impressive in the genre, with screechy highs and lows that sound like they're being echoed straight from the bowels of hell. No matter the pace of the music, his vocals match it perfectly, and that's not exactly the easiest of tasks considering the chaotic nature perpetrated by the band's other three members.
The band is more than crazy time signature changes, blistering riffs, and insane drum fills -- they do have a more reserved side. Think about the jazz that Dillinger Escape Plan integrated on Miss Machine, do a good deal of expanding on that, and you will find yourself listening to Mabus' "Swingin' in Saterlee Grove." A slinky, groove-packed jazz number that integrates some horns, and allows Cashman to do his best lounge singer rendition. What's more is it works. It works very, very well. The brief reprieve from the chaos the other songs offer is a welcome one, and there's more jazz moments sporadically sprinkled into many of the other songs to give it that extra little edge. The band even tries their hand at an entirely instrumental song, as "Canyons for Ribcages" acts as the slow churning prelude to the all out assault of the album closer, "Retire Happy."
It's not enough anymore to be technical for the sake of it. It's been done, it's been done again, and done some more. Fans of extreme music like Mabus are now a much harder bunch to please, but an album like this, one that provides both chaos and structure is bound to appease the lot.