Released: 2014, End Of The Light Records
I very much enjoy the female fronted neo-classical, gothic, symphonic, progressive Metal bands and that style is certainly one of the most popular metal sub-genres on the planet right now. However, I wonder how the scene can sustain so many bands and I feel it is pretty ambitious to found a band in this style. Mutum is a relatively newcomer and despite my academic assessment if the number of bands, people will pick favourites and bands will live or die on their own merits. I'm choosing to support Mutum because I feel they have what it takes to move into the upper echelons (i.e. a sustainable career) of a very crowded scene.
Mutum hail from Mexico and although PREMONITION OF WAR is their second album, it is my first introduction to the band. Has a dark, dull cover which may not help them stand out on the racks for potential shoppers, but overall the package is very nice, a good booklet with a nice layout design, photos and lyrics. Mexico is not really a stronghold of this style so it is interesting to see what this band from Monterrey can bring. They were on a small domestic label but this album has been picked up by End Of The Light Records with good international distribution. As boring as the business side may sound this is important because if they didn't have this distribution deal, a random guy like me sitting in Western Canada would not likely be exposed to an indie band from Mexico.
The band has been around for many years, since 2001, but was slow getting started. The first major development was the recruitment of new singer Myrthala Bray who replaces Anabel Olivio who sang on the debut. I haven't heard the debut so I can't compare the two. I do know that Myrthala possesses a fine voice and strong soprano styled delivery that is almost a written pre-requisite to be in this type of act. The next roster change was the addition of keyboardist Hiram Aguirre. His impact was immediately felt as he, along with guitarist Roy Cantu, orchestrated the whole album. The band used the services of the 'Mutum Orchestra' an actual 50- piece orchestra! The album is billed a 'Metal Opera' because there is no discernible storyline from just reading the lyrics, there is no main character. PREMONITIONS OF WAR is certainly thematic but not a true concept album.
Sonically and compositionally, this record is superb. It is grandiose, bombastic and epic. Yes, clichés all of them but these words truly describe the sound. The orchestration and crunchy metal guitars blend seamlessly into a larger whole. There are massive choirs helping back up the sweet song-bird vocals of Mrythala and even a bit of narration as well. There are longer epics and short instrumental interludes. The are well-written, far above your average verse, chorus, verse, chorus construction, not too odd or progressive. Acoustic piano features prominently on some songs, such as ‘Fallen Angel’ and especially the gorgeous ballad, ‘The Stars Lullaby’ complete with a vocal tour-de-force by Myrthala. Else where the metal rages to the fore with the cuts ‘Curses’ and the punchy opening cut ‘Hourglass’.
Only 40 minutes long, this album could have been twice as long and it would not have bothered me. PREMOTIONS OF WAR is a great record, one of the better of it’s class for 2014. Watch for Mutum to continue to make waves in the symphonic Metal genre.