tue 17/09/2019

CD: Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard - Yn Ol I Annwn | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard - Yn Ol I Annwn

CD: Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard - Yn Ol I Annwn

The return of the Welsh band revealing doom metal's unexpected potential

Astronomic levels of heaviness

Their music is a bit wizard-y. It’s certainly imbued with a pungent sense of mammoth weed. And the “bastard” is surely for the sheer, meaty rock’n’roll heft of the word (much as Motörhead used it to title an album). But don’t be fooled. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard are not a passing indie-punk turn with a novelty name in the vein of, say, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin or Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head. Their new album carries serious weight. It’s heavy as osmium.

Fans of this quartet from Wrexham, Wales, will observe that Yn Ol I Annwn (Return to the Underworld in Welsh) isn’t as heavy as their previous pair of albums. They’d be right. Their three releases amount to a trilogy but this time MMWB expand their palette with the use of old-fashioned Seventies synthesizer sounds and a cello, alongside a strong and very specific grasp of minor key pop moodiness.

The band hail from the doom metal scene, a style that derives from Black Sabbath’s down-tuned riffs slowed to a hashish’n’Mogadon sluggishness. What’s always sets them immediately apart is the sweetly startling, gothic vocals of singer Jessica Ball which, played against their treacle-mud riffs, is something new in rock. Tracks such as “Spaceships of Ezekiel’ (yes, they’re unafraid of prog rock titles) and, especially, the cello-fuelled, percussively dynamic “The Majestic Clockwork” add a fresh dimension, as if they’re in thrall to both Hawkwind and the Cocteau Twins as much as Sunn O))) and the like.

With almost all songs over eight minutes long, they’re expert at mood-building. The plucked folky motifs and Ball’s spooked singing on “Fata Morgana” play out beautifully for five minutes before everything explodes while, upon occasion, they go instrumental, simply dragging the listener down their strafing drone-hole, as on the smashing 13-an-a-half minute “Katyusha”.

For this listener, the conceptual themes aren’t clear but who cares! It sounds great, one of the year’s most original albums, and also one of its most noisily enjoyable.

Listen to "Spaceships of Ezekiel" by Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard

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