SAVED BY LAST NIGHT…
August 24, 2012
Mare Reunion Shows
Review + Stream
The opening track "Anisette" has a perfect example of this, while also being my favorite track on the record (which for me is a tough choice to make considering everything laid down here is gold) and the most easy to describe genre-wise as atmospheric sludge. Don't let this throw you though, it is not post-metal or post-rock, and while this could be the most "normal" of all the songs here it avoids tropes and crutches by carving a deeply satisfying path between desperate heaviness, alluring beauty and jarring angularity. The opening moments are subtle, quiet and elegant; a sad set of notes and chords that do not prepare you for when the pace quickens. At first clean, Caleb kicks in with drums announcing a shift towards the heavy. This continues for a full minute almost, slow and ominous. And then we hear from Tyler when the pace ramps up slightly. What grabs me every time — aside from the spellbinding, expertly crafted riffs that melt into satisfying chords, and the intelligent and busy but not flashy drumming — is Tyler's vocal style. It's far beyond anything I've heard anywhere before or since. The opening lines are screamed, screeched with so much consuming devotion it kills me every time, and in every moment he's locked into this style it floors me. Despite this the lyrics are easily decipherable. The riffs during these first four lines are still melancholic, but sharp and bone crushingly heavy with a slight addition of discordance. The percussion is clear as day and soak into you. Once that fourth line diminishes, a clang and a brief silence before a tremendous riff stomps on you, jarring at first. Suddenly it morphs into a sad chord and Tyler shows off his versatility as a vocalist: beautiful, haunting clean melodies float from him for a single line, escalating and sustained until once again unleashed into that violent screech for the rest of the track. It slows down from this point, continuously heavy and for a moment more dissonant before rolling back into grooves. The final moment soars with a powerful scream as the chords hang there and the cymbals shudder. This was the third track played live and aside from "Tropics" was the one I was dying to hear the most. It was something like a cathartic experience for me when Tyler started screaming, screeching, when the bass kicked in after the clean opening. It was flawlessly performed, and had everyone attending fixated and moving with the sheer weight of the song. Those first four lines had an added intensity those two nights.
"Saved by last night When we lived All I know is last night We almost lost you for good
Let's hear what she has to say
It's an intricate fold It's the cure For us trying to speak And it works Look at the overcast people Then look at their overcast sons"
Mare - AnisetteSuddenly you step into something the complete opposite of the previous track with "They Sent You", the track they opened both nights with. Synths behind Tylers soft, celestial choral procession, drawing out the words and letting them waver. It's soothing and a bit eerie when a sharp horn raises at points. It's truly impressive how versatile he is from one moment to the next. Just over a minute in the tone switches back to a wicked sludgy groove with a great percussive rhythm underneath, becoming progressively more busy as the track moves along. The way Mare treads the line between so many different tones and textures and genres is nothing short of inspiring, as seen at the halfway mark when things become more ominous, slow and dark. The song drops out for a moment, replaced by a stinging row of notes, only for the heaviness to come back even slower. It only becomes more harsh as this track reaches the end which is punctuated by a quick and quirky clean moment. Now we move into an even stranger track: "Tropics". I read a review a while back which put it better then I could ever do on my own when describing what this track is, and that is "lounge doom". And it is both creepy and massive at the same time. The drumming is a slow jazzy style, while the bass and guitar slither at first with what one would first assume is a bow on guitar strings. In both live performances of this song, it was clear Tyler was just using an effect on his board to create the sound (whether in studio he used something like a bow I don't know); they slowed it down a notch as well. The effect creates a lumbering, expansive atmosphere in between Tyler's subdued vocals, just as slow and ethereal as the cryptic lyrics flow outward. It's the shortest track and the most entrancing, a low and quiet reverberating atmosphere that slinks along lazily. The end drifts straight into the next track "Palaces" which begins at first with a set of oddly timed notes with an almost tropic air to them. But it quickly returns to a style heard at the end of "They Sent You". Twisted and agonizing as the vocals take on a tortured rasp, plinking notes and a doomy rhythm stabilizing the entire song. The pace switches three minutes in when the guitars go clean and melodic with some complex percussion, and this continues to ascend, spiraling and meandering before a chaotic and noisy break. Then it plunges back into the same set of riffs in the opening progression but slightly faster. The spurts of dissonance throughout this song add so much to the massive feeling that has been established. Both nights this was performed it was done without alteration and as in the recording bled right into the finale: "Sun For Miles". What a finale it is. Almost entirely choral, harmonized singing from Tyler without any instruments to back him up. Heavenly and blissful would be the perfect description, the layered vocals creating a meditative trace in the listener. It's just one final example of how far above the rest of bands that touch on this genre Mare are, and again stressing the versatility of Tyler's vocal abilities. During the live incarnation of this song, the harmonized parts were played through the PA while Tyler did his best to supplement them at key moments, as Caleb and Matt took a much needed break. At the climax of his utterances, feedback shines through and the last minute is some of the heaviest rhythm on the record — all the while he returns to his agonizing, throat-rending screams to bolster that unearthly dirge. It was this moment in the performance where everyone in the crowd lifted their limbs and swayed with the waves of sound projected from the band. Matt's bass was so thick, while Caleb screamed as he pounded his kit, and Tyler's screams were even more grating and bold then at any point in the set. It was perfect both nights, but even more so on Friday as the added emphasis of it being the last of the reunion shows ratcheted up the intensity to untold heights. After this, on both nights, was that ritualistic celebration I mentioned earlier. Tambourines and maracas and similar instruments were given out and it was time for some fun farewells after an intense and long set of nights. Caleb played on and Tyler sung wordlessly along with the crowd, and this carried on for about four or five minutes. When it comes to Mare's record, I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who wants to experience something truly unique and creative, even challenging. It's one of the few records that effected me on a cellular level, changed my perspective on underground music and through that my tastes. I realize I'm 8 years late in saying this at this point, but I feel it is and may forever be one of those lost gems of the underground that does not get appreciated to the level it deserves. I would say go see them live if you want be blown away but the chances of anyone getting that opportunity are practically zero now. The vinyl version has been long sold out (there are some still floating around on eBay I'm sure) and the CD is still available out there; I know the band had at least 30 copies at each show. It's not available at Hydra Head Records as far as I know, I've seen it on Amazon, even HMV and iTunes, but you should scour your local record store to find a copy as well. It's easily worth the $10 it goes for out there. Overall I was so happy to be able to attend these two shows and witness a legend perform one last time with friends and great bands. Much like when I've seen Thou in the past, and when I attended the Gilead Media Festival, this was a succession of shows I will never forget.