Mar De Grises – Streams Inwards   Leave a comment

I have been lucky enough to hear Mar De Grises sound develop since their 2004 debut titled “The Tatterdemalion Express”, such an impressive album that was and still is so it was always going to a benchmark album that they would have a hard time matching in my view. The follow up album released a few years later was “Draining The Waterheart” which marked a change in the band’s sound as they were heading in a slightly more “progressive doom” direction. Listening to these albums shows just why they are so highly regarded in underground metal circles although some in the underground media still don’t get it and I could easily throw some links out as this point in the review but I won’t, lets just say the attention span of some reviewers is limited at best. This Chilean Doom Metal band has indeed evolved into an captivating act with a sound that is always searching for new innovations within the death/doom scene and this new album further extends on the themes created on the “Draining The Waterheart” album but this time around their approach seems to be even more sparse and more spacious. The band has always been moving in an surrealistic direction with their atmospheric pieces and with this album, they have finally achieved a perfect balance of  doom psychedelia and a kind of blackened ambiance.

The band used to have a substantial quota of “post-rock” influences in their style in the past but it appears most if not all of that has been dropped on this album in favor of straight-out Progressive Rock elements and it works. Opening track “Starmaker” fuses large amounts of keyboards with strong melody lines while keeping some fine guitar riffing in its rightful place for a Doom Metal act. “Shining Human Skin” follows on with an similar vibe while “The Bell and the Solar Gust” provides one of the album’s highlight despite it being a very tame version of doom. I know some people will hear as “doom-lite” as it is centered around expansive melodies and not much at all in the way of crushing riffing but this somewhat quirky formula works in a way that if many other bands tried to do the same, it would just sound lame, in the case of Mar De Grises though, its a very polished piece of epic music. “Spectral Ocean” brings in a warm electronic element which gives the track a barren vibe and a atmosphere of total desolation however its not that stimulating but its thankfully a very short interlude. “Sensing the New Orbit” is one of the more “traditional” songs on the album and this is where the band are at their weakest, its still highly listenable but it lacks the atmospheric elements of the other, stronger tracks.

The second half the album is not as strong as the first half with “Knotted Delirium” worth mentioning simply because its weird as the piano sounds like it is drowning in a layer of quicksand. Meanwhile “A Sea of Dead Comets” brings back a certain complexity into the music which is the band’s strongest feature, the keyboards on this tune add an outer-space, other worldly vibe and its this side of the band I like the most. Ironically though one of the best songs here is the limited edition bonus track that comes with the digi-pak release. Its titled “Aphelion Aura” and odd for me to dig this tune so much as it drops the guitars all together and is an fully electronic piece. Apart from the outstanding keyboard work of Juan Escobar, its also his vocals that provide many highlights. His varied vocal technique makes full use of light and shade, mixing growls with clean vocal parts but there is the also added addition of female vocals which supplies some extra emotion. They can still be compared with Katatonia and My Dying Bride but Mar De Grises seem to be moving away from the “norm” within the death/doom genre, they seem to be getting more melodic and more progressive with each release and most importantly to note for doom aficionados, less heavy overall. The truth is this album isn’t really that heavy at all so I guess you could call it doom made for a wider audience, yes the “doom-lite” tag is accurate but this is a good album, I was hoping for them to top their debut masterpiece but they haven’t managed that one as yet, but for now though I am still happy with “Streams Inwards”……8.1/10
Mar De Grises Myspace

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Posted September 27, 2010 by doommantia in Mar De Grises

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