Mares of Thrace, The Pilgrimage (the improvised review)

Mares of Thrace is guitarist/vocalist Thérèse Lanz and drummer Stefani MacKichan. They play largely-improvised alterna-doom metal. The Pilgrimage tends to sound like a combination of Kylesa and Black Cobra.

If you read me with any regularity, this you already know.

What you may be asking yourself, is: why is he reviewing this record again?

It occurred to me that I’d never reviewed the same album twice in rapid succession. Ghost’s Opus Eponymous I reviewed twice, but there was a year and half between reviews.

Since I love jazz, I thought I would do the review again, but this time, live.

Whereas the first review was the considered, pre-planned studio version, here is the “live” one: i.e., exactly what I think at the time I hear some part of this (spell-corrected, but otherwise unaltered– I swear my journalistic integrity on this claim*).

(For my psychology nerd homies —holla!–): the album review as projective test!)

And thus:

“Act I: David Glimpses Bathsheba,” a jagged 7/8 time riff before the Kylesa-ish shrieking comes in, some pick-sliding to add a strange dissonance to the background sounds during the main riff’s transposition a half step up… tribal drums like High on Fire…

Track two, “The Pragmatist,” uses what I think is a flatted fifth-based riff with a scrawly, rock-type riff thereafter, and tends to use the root chord to great effect, occasionally transposing up a half-step for maximum dissonance… “The Gallwasp,” sounds like a Satanic blues, with its repetition and riff-based insistence, its sludgy languor… overall, the best track so far… actually, yanno what? They’re starting to sound more like High on Fire now, but with a songwriting succinctness that HOF don’t have….

“The Perpetrator,” a flatted-fifth riff with a very vaguely-bluesy-rockish riff behind it… very Kylesa again, and not because of the female vocals, which are barely recognizably female… at 1:29 sounds truly daunting and powerful (is it weird that at this precise point I wonder what Thérèse Lanz must be like in bed?)….

At this point (“Act II: Bathsheba’s Reply to David”) that the pattern of songwriting emerges as obvious: opening riff in the root note/chord, occasionally hit the flatted fifth, and during the next song point (whether it’s sidewalk, bridge, chorus, or whatever) use a spidery-vaguely bluesy-rock riff which also introduces the shrieked vocals….

And for the most part it totally works.

“The Goat Thief,” is nearly drone in its minute-and-a-half intro, before it becomes nearly black metal in its sludgy, tremolo-picked riffs and erratic drums….

Overall: the more I listen, the more I like.

Maybe you will, too. Just sayin.

[The Pilgrimage is released 4/24/12.]
*Shut the fuck up!– I do so have some.

listen to “The Gallwasp” at Brooklyn Vegan

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