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Mamaleek Swings for the Experimental Home Run but Strikes Out - 20%

6Toxic6Beer6, August 13th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Independent

I was checking out Bandcamp while shopping for groceries when I caught sight of an album cover that reminded me of Drudkh and Grift's Зраджені сонцем (Betrayed by the Sun) / Hägringar (Mirages) album artwork (don't ask me why, I imagined the snow, the sky, and the mountains looking way more similar than in actuality). This was Mamaleek's "Cadejos", an EP a little over twelve minutes long that when listened to is clearly trying to be experimental and edgy at the same time. I gave it a try, really did not like it, and tried a second time, and did not like it even more.

The first song, Katsina, has some pretty pleasant but repetitive acoustics to it, with a woman humming in the distance. I enjoyed it, I thought it gave a plan to what was going to be a smooth transition to the second song, but Cadejo Negro is just a huge letdown. It sounds as if Bašmu was trying to be Leviathan as Leviathan was trying to be elevator music. There's this annoying xylophone alongside these deep growls, and it just doesn't click well. The song then suddenly transitions to this weird Wild West-like standoff music with someone whistling far off and the sound of what I guess are boot chains clacking as the song marches. But the song is so slow, it tries to speed up to that of a walking pace, but nothing is very synchronized, nor sounds like there was any direction at all to the songwriting. By the way, the drum work is mediocre throughout the EP and doesn't contribute at all to the songs' form. I mention this now because you get a whole blast of awful drum work at the end of the second song. The final piece, Cadego Blanco, has this weird guitar plucking, which I guess is supposed to be an homage to Latin American fingerstyle guitar music? The same guy is still growling in the background, but again, it just doesn't match well at all. And then the EP ends. Great.

I think this album had a lot of potential. Based on the Bandcamp lyrics, it tells the story of a wandering traveler in the desert. It references Central American folklore about El Cadejo, a demon that brings people to insanity, which definitely should be mentioned more in black metal. Apparently, Cadejo is derived from the Spanish word for "chain", which now explains the sound of chains in the second song. It's clever, but the music doesn't pan out. It's not interesting, it's not done well, and it sure doesn't deserve a second listen. Given the high reviews from some of their previous work, I am very surprised to be as disappointed in this EP as I am. If this sounds like something you may be interested in, give it a go, but I wish I hadn't.