Having just signed to Ontario label, Sonic Unyon Records, for their upcoming release, “The Pilgrimage” (on April 24th), the western Canadian duo, Mares of Trace stand by the motto “Higher education and lowered tuning.” No bass? No problem; just incorporate a custom built baritone guitar with a bass pickup by Kurt Ballou of Converge and you’re set to destroy. With Thérèse Lanz (former KEN Mode bassist) on guitar, electronics and vocalist alongside drummer Stefani MacKichan, these ladies have created a sound that is nothing but deathly heavy.
Starting off the album with the beginning of a staggered, 3 act saga, ‘Act I: David Glimpses Bathsheba’ keeps the vocals to a minimum and sets up listeners for the shifting of doom laden riffs, breaks and sludgy rhythms “The Pilgrimage” carries. A glorious trail of feedback provides fodder for the next track, ‘The Pragmatist’ which releases a caged cacophony of lyrical destruction, tearing at you limb from limb and healed in check by MacKichan’s prodigious drumming.
‘Triple B’ was one of my favorites, adding a noisy, industrial break to the tone of the album and evoking similar sentiment to a good dose of other ambient Canadian electronic acts such as Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly.
‘The Three-Legged Courtesan…’ is definitely for the proud and patient doom devotee; an experience in itself to anyone who engages in the uptake. The rhythm, the riffs, the dissidence; it was simply perfection. ‘…and the Bird Surgeon’ closes the record with formidable whispers and drawn out dynamic guitar notes; the held and controlled screeches of feedback cleansing your musical pallet so you can take it all in again.
Though some might court this as being more exclusive to sludge and doom metal fans, I can’t see their pace being a problem for the average noise or mathcore fan, if only for certain tracks on the album. With constant comparisons to anything Julie Christmas related, it would be safe to say, if you’re partial to her solo project, A Battle of Mice or Made Out Of Babies, you may have just found your latest vice. Eclectics will be pleased with Mares assorted feast of genres that seem to hold little purpose, as long as it’s heavy. Dare I say Canada’s #1 metal album of the year for a second time? It may be too soon to predict but I’d definitely say these ladies are vicious contenders and I can’t wait to catch them on tour in the next 2 months. Keep an eye out for dates in a city near you.