MAUDLIN OF THE WELL — Leaving Your Body Map (review)

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL — Leaving Your Body Map album cover Album · 2001 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Conor Fynes
'Leaving Your Body Map' - maudlin of the Well (9/10)

Many artists have said one of the hardest things to do is to write a follow up to a breakthrough album. With the first piece of this companion duology, 'Bath' swept through the avant-garde metal scene like a tidal wave, spreading their unique brand of psychedelic experimental music to sound systems throughout the progressive world. Taking a bevy of various styles and compiling them together into one beautiful, head-scratching sound and executed magnificently by a host of passionate musicians, 'Bath' would later be known as a modern classic only a few years after its release. With this procession, there were definately high stakes involved in creating something to follow up 'Bath;' a so-called classic would not accept a companion lightly. Apparently, this pressure seems to have paid off. Not only is 'Leaving Your Body Map' on par with its predecessor, it is a completely unique experience all its own.

Developing on the theme of 'Bath,' 'Leaving Your Body Map' takes things to another level; fixing problems while ultimately adding alot of new sounds to the mix. While you can tell these albums are more or less 'brother and sister,' there is a much more experimental and spacy side here that was seldom shown in the former. With this in mind, 'Leaving Your Body Map' is certainly a more challenging listen, and a very apparent transition to the even stranger work of Kayo Dot.

The sound here is eclectic, but Toby Driver and company manage to make it work like a charm. Instruments that would otherwise seem out of place outside of jazz, classical and folk music are brought here and meshed beautifully with the typically heavy, metal soundscape. However, while things are heavier for Maudlin than ever before, the sense of melody and calming moments of 'mellowness' do not suffer. Much like its sister album, there are two acoustic interludes here, a 'ballad' style track, and an epic which runs through the course of many different dynamics. On that note, much is shared between the two albums; they are the same length, have the same amount of tracks, and even have a similar flow in terms of how the interludes are dispersed and where the mandatory 'epic' sits in the album. Hell, they even use some of the same musical ideas, although the ideas themselves go in completely different directions.

In terms of song highlights or 'standout' moments, something that distinguishes 'Leaving Your Body Map' from many other albums is that it remains incredibly consistent throughout. There are 'more enjoyable' moments than others here, but the overall quality is maintained more or less, throughout the entire album. While this is a good thing on one hand, the songs are not as individually memorable as they were before, which makes it an album that works best listened to from start to finish.

Unfortunately, the collective that is maudlin of the Well would go on to break up later on in 2001, but we would happily be blessed with the coming of Kayo Dot, and another masterpiece under the Maudlin title almost a decade later. 'Leaving Your Body Map' is probably not the best place to start with this band; it is rather something to work towards. This is some of the more challenging metal out there, and the listener must be involved with the music in order to get the most out of it. However, it is a fantastic conclusion to the more accessible (although not by much) and mellow 'Bath' and yet another classic of modern metal.
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