MAELSTROM VALE — Silhouettes (review)

MAELSTROM VALE — Silhouettes album cover Album · 2019 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
voila_la_scorie
"Doomed Traveler" appears to be the first proper video that Maelstrom Vale has done. If you watch it, just go ahead and watch it, you might be... appalled! "What is this rubbish?" you might say to yourself or to whomever is watching it with you. "Is this a joke?" Metal Sucks gave this video mention back in August, 2016. Dangerousminds caught wind of it and called it "The best worst metal song you're gonna hear today". And the PRP News ran the headline, "Maelstrom Vale's 'Doomed Traveler' May Be Your New Favorite Canadian Metal Video".

If you've ever seen any videos by The Black Satans you might understand what I'm getting at. The video is so painfully bad that it's funny and bears re-watching. Vocalist Kurt Bergsma arching his back with his gut sticking out under his T-shirt; bassist Andrew Linsley's clean vocals somehow not quite matching the dude playing the bass in the video; guitarist Evan Sundbo looking like a seventies high school nerd who's into The Ramones. The video is obviously home made (on smart phones!) and recorded to playback, which is quite obvious at times. The lip-syncing just doesn't look convincing. But there's something you should know: the actual music is something quite different.

Maelstrom Vale are at the basic level classified as progressive death metal. But there's a lot more to this band. Forget the video. Listen to the song only. The band actually does have their chops down. Rumbling chords, slap bass, cruising heavy psychedelic riffs. These are no inept hacks trying to be metal. They have the chops! The thing is that they are not your typical progressive death metal band by any means.

This seven-track, 42-minute album is quite the ride. You never know what the band will throw at you. Punky riffing. Death growl "do do-do do-do" with a falsetto backing vocal that sounds like it's provided by a member of the Chicken Coupe Backup Singers, strange sliding guitar string effects, and bizarre lyrics such as, "History is impossible / You can dream / We need a dream / For four years, eleven months, and two days / do do-do do-do". And that's just the first track!

You'll also get a waltz breakdown in "To Surpass the Gods", a three-minute flute solo in "The Fear of July", folky acoustic strumming, math-rock psychedelic riffing, droppings of doom riffs, and in "Thulcandra Pt II: The Boogey Man" you'll get a groovy guitar riff that even octogenarians with hip replacements will want to dance to. Seriously, you never do know what will come next. Well, okay, I just told you. Spoiler alert! Too late!

Listening to "Silhouettes" for the first time is a bit like the first time I heard They Might Be Giants: there was a zaniness, a sense of fun and comedy, but it was somehow more impressive than funny because the music was so outstanding. Maelstrom Vale might seem hard to take seriously sometimes but there's no denying that these dudes have a knack for switching rhythms and time signatures like any experienced prog band and can convincingly rock out heavy and dark when they want.

Just don't judge their music by their home video.
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Vim Fuego wrote:
55 days ago
Oh yeah... add video... I forgot about that!
56 days ago
I added the video already and saw that message. They also have a video about the making of this video but half the time it's just boring "how to use video-making software" stuff.
Vim Fuego wrote:
58 days ago
Here's the video: https://youtu.be/pUQ-J0DsBbU
Here's the accompanying message: re-uploading this because these pussies unlisted the original video and i want them to live with the embarrassment of making this
:D :D :D

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