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Mouth of The Architect are one of the many new bands in the increasingly congested post-metal scene. Like many of these new bands, they seem to be aiming for the most epic Isis imitation they can muster, and they definitely succeed here and there. Indeed, calling these guys 'groundbreaking' or even 'remotely original' would be a pretty huge stretch, but these guys still manage to pull off the epic post-metal pretty nicely, at least in some of the songs.
'No One Wished to Settle here' is a good example of MoTA nailing the post-metal song. It's extremely long, has all of those elegant post-rockisms present, but unlike Isis and Cult of Luna, it gets to the the big riffs pretty quickly, and the big riffs are some of the most satisfying riffs I've yet to hear in this genre. There's the usual light and shade, quiet and loud, etc, and while it's a bit cliched it's a great song. One thing MoTA really have going for them are the really nice riffs- the clean parts are nice, sure, but the heavy parts are pretty huge and triumphant, less rooted in the slowed down hardcore plod of bands like Isis and Cult of Luna and more notey, upbeat, and fulfilling. Honestly, sometimes I wonder why these bands don't just release entirely heavy albums, as it could be quite entertaining. Balboa is a good example of this. There is some decent clean parts, but it's the heavy parts that make the song as good as it is, with plenty of big riffs in the front half of the song.
There are plenty of nice moments here, no doubt, but there's also the occasional problem. Carry On is quite dull and sounds *exactly* like Neurosis, from the two pronged vocal attack to the riffs that are ripped straight from Through Silver in Blood. The two shortest songs (still clocking in at seven minutes each) are also somewhat dull, with some big riffs and nice clean parts that sound good on their own but ultimately go nowhere. Indeed, if MoTA cut out maybe 25 minutes of filler and honed the rest a bit more, you'd have a pretty sweet album, but that isn't to be unfortunately.
Still, despite a few dodgy songs, there's some really epic stuff here for fans of this genre to enjoy. I feel that MoTA are a lot less pretentious then most other similar bands, going for big riffs and epic melodies instead of trying to be all smart 'n' arty. This approach is generally quite awarding when MoTA execute it right, particularly on the epic "No One Wished to Settle Here". However, there's lots of filler in this album, so while I'd recommend it, you should also keep the skip button handy.
With The Ties that Blind, Mouth of the Architect have positioned themselves as frontrunners in the Isis-style post-metal race. The album succeeds on multiple levels, something many releases in this genre fail to do: it is at times amazingly heavy, sublimely melancholic and majestically beautiful.
The first thing that stands out about The Ties that Blind is the overt post-rock influences in so many of the songs. The openings to "No One Wished To Settle Here," and "Harboring an Apparition," would not be out of place on an Explosions in the Sky disc; what makes them unique here is how well they seamlessly blend with the heavier Oceanic-style riffing. The clean ringing guitars in "No One Wished..." are not unnecessary or over-indulgent, and rather than detracting from the song and making it a stylistic mishmash, they give the song a truly sad veneer, lending the song a true arc during its fifteen minute plus run time. There are likewise nods to Pelican and Mogwai, also done in a way to be more homage than retread. The assimilation of disparate musical elements is what makes metal interesting and this is particularily the case here.
The second remarkable thing about this album is how well it flows together without each song sounding the same. Each song has its own feeling and identity, from the heavy riffing of "At Arms Length," to the slow crescendo of "Wake Me When it's Over." It is impossible to imagine the tracks played in any other order, and there is no unnecessary filler in between the songs, something that plagues many albums and bands playing this style of pseudo-
orchestral guitar-centric post-metal.
The third, and possibly best thing about this album, is how good some of the individual songs are, considered apart from the other tracks. "No One Wished..." is the centerpiece of the album, a massive track that begins in post-rock ambivalence, morphs into seriously heavy melancholic guitar shredding (with a main riff any band would be glad to claim as their own), progresses into an impassioned middle section full of soaring guitars and roaring vocals(again anchored by the same awesome riff), a brief respite of clean strummed chords, that finally plays itself out with the same guitars that opened the song. It is a truly majestic song and makes a great centerpiece to great album.
Over all, this is a great album, not just for what it is, but also for what it isn't; there are no overlong wandering interludes, no clean vocals, no instrumental tracks, and no token breakdowns. Instead what the listener is presented with is an intense album of midtempo heaviness tempered with elegant post-rock guitars, a style that when done well is infinitely listenable.