Hands up, I was a bit hesitant about reviewing this one. I don’t tend to get along with conceptual or more progressive albums, and I had no idea how I was going to actually review something like this. I’m going for it anyway (anyone fancy reviewing my review…?)
Right, Cities of Mars. These guys are like a cross between the metal, prog sound of Mastodon and their huge storyline epics, and Tool with their more experimental rock influences poured into the mix. The result; 3 huge tracks averaging out at 9 minutes each, telling the tale of a discovery on Mars (as appropriately titled by EP and band names.)
The sound; a treat for your ears in the form of slow paced metal backings, layered up with some phenominal lead guitars, some prog/stoner rock style vocals and a plethora of effects and riffs/solos interwoven to take you along the journey. This is another one of those albums best played in a dark room through a good Hi-Fi setup (or good quality headphones) to really experience the whole thing. Also, accidental discovery, it is great to stick on if you can’t sleep.
Now those lead guitars need some focus. One thing I don’t like about a lot of metal bands is the over-emphasis on the lead guitars, with them feeling overpowering and, really just showing off. I love listening to the likes of John5, but in this style of metal music I find it can be a huge drag. Now with Cities of Mars, I find they drop back a bit, possibly with some of the delay effects that are used, but it doesn’t steal the attention and you are allowed to enjoy all aspects of the music at all times. However, if you do love some good old shredding, there is plenty of it to get you going from start to finish.
A lot of concept albums like this can end up falling short where the band ends up forcing themselves to stick to a sound and style for storyline, as opposed to simply running with their influences. Celestial Mistress, being only a 3 track EP, is a solid piece from start to finish. This will appeal to any fan of guitar-heavy music, 10 minute epics, anything remotely progressive and/or who appreciates music that has a lot of time, care and depth loaded throughout.
Jake Hancke – 23/02/2017