Released: 2008, Firebox Records
One of my favourite releases of 2004 was Mar De Grises’ debut album, THE TATTERDEMALION EXPRESS. A seminal doom statement, the album tapped into some of the most ferocious, yet deeply miserable feelings imaginable, somehow maintaining its metal riffery in spite of itself. After a long four year wait, and a changing of front man (exit Marcelo Rodrigues, enter Juan Escobar), these melancholic Chileans have returned with another statement of doom: DRAINING THE WATERHEART.
In my humble opinion, doom metal is one of the toughest genres of metal to play well. It’s penchant for droning, drawn-out songs can make it difficult to keep a song interesting for 8+ minutes. Few bands get it right and Mar De Grises is one of them. Drenched in sorrow, DRAINING THE WATERHEART picks up right where its predecessor left off with the crushing “Sleep Just One Dawn”. The song is a master craft of doom, and a sign of things to come. Indeed, the other seven songs prove to be the equal of this impressive opener, easily making this a contender for doom album of the year. Unfortunately, the album’s fatal flaw is instantly revealed: a botched mixing job has left the vocals mixed far too low, to the point where they are difficult to hear. Granted, this may just be a problem with my copy – I truly hope so! Regardless, I have to go with what I’ve been given, and the drowned vocals are a major problem.
Musically, as I said, the band has picked up where they left off. Waves of crushing riffs, crested with keyboards assail the listener, one minute raging, the next pulling back to quiet introspection. It all flows so effortlessly that it’s almost impossible not to get lost in the band’s world.
It pains me to take points off this disc, but the botched vocal mix is just so distracting from the whole that I have no choice. As I said, I hope this is just an issue with my review copy, but even if it isn’t, this is such a strong album that I wholeheartedly recommend it.