Reviewed: [June 2021]
Released [2021 Black Lion Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Though Mother of All is described as a one-man band fronted by Danish multi-instrumentalist Martin Haumann, it’s really more of all-star project – even if the “stars” he has teamed with aren’t that well known. His first two EPs featured the likes of fellow Danes guitarist Jardén Schlesinger and bassist Rasmus Christensen of the likes of Sylvatica and Final Hour.
For Mother Of All’s full-length debut, he aimed a bit higher, and was able to line up Testament’s Steve Di Giorgio (a veteran of Death, Sadus and a ton of session gigs) to play bass and Hannes Grossmann (who’s drummed with Alkaloid, Obscura, Hate Eternal, Necrophagist) to produce, mix and master the effort. Haumann, who has been Myrkur’s touring drummer since 2017 and handles drum and vocals duties here, then rounded out the team with rookie guitarist Frederik Jensen.
The mixed bag of talent, and their mixed bag of backgrounds, is both a blessing and curse on Age of the Solipsist, given the equally mixed bag of tunes Haumann wrote for the album. At 7 songs and 30 minutes, Solipsist isn’t a much grander package than many EPs. but it certainly covers a lot of stylistic territory.
“Autumn” opens things in grand black metal fashion with its bracing trems, galloping drums and sudden turns – like the jazzy acoustic break about two minutes that gives Jensen a chance to trade chops with Di Giorgio and show his stuff. He proves to be a fortuitous find. But things take a decidedly thrash metal turn on “We Don’t Agree,” echoing Destruction with its frantic clipped riffing and the breathless cadence of Haumann’s shouting.
That cadence becomes almost psychotic on “Curators of Our World Scope” with Haumann rambling seemingly at random over a quirky, free-form tangle of technical thrash. Things never really coalesce here as it sounds like the trio are all playing different songs at once. That is contrasted by the effortlessly catchy melodic death metal of the title track, which has hints of Colony/Clayman-era In Flames or Soilwork with Jensen’s head-bob hooks and dramatic flourishes.
The mid-tempo chug and grind of “At the Edge of a Dream,” though, recalls the clunky nu metal period In Flames and is equally, well, clunky. “Blood Still Owed” borrows a page from Testament with its surging riffs and chunky tempo buoyed, fittingly, by Di Giorgio’s thick bass licks. It’s occasional shout-along vocals and surly lyrics add to the old-school flavor.
Not sure just what’s going on with the closing track “Feel The Pain,” which seems like a stab at alt-metal or something. The clean vocal harmonies, hard rock melodies contrasted by metallic muscle and erratic structure end up sounding rather a mess, and are definitely out of character here.
While variety is usually a good thing, too much can be just that. And Haumann and company spread themselves a bit thin here – even over just seven songs. The musicianship is top notch throughout, as you might expect, but the material is definitely hit and miss, and not even an all-star team can do much about the misses.