*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured State*
This month’s State is Minnesota!
Not in the mood for my norm this week. Just not feeling it. Need something different to clean my palette. Something out of my comfort zone. Black Metal? Nah. With a few exceptions, I just shut down. Maybe some good Death Metal then? I found a ton of good bands but I am not really in a bad mood, just tired. Good Death usually calms me down, allowing me to let all the frustration out through the aggressive music. Again, not feeling it. Look long enough and am am sure to find something that strikes the right chord (pun intended), so I continue. Then, bang, in drops St. Paul’s Maeth to save the day.
With a self described sound of “Heavy/Progressive/Psychedelic/Post-Rocks/Chillcore/Jazz Fission/Djoom/Skygaze/Deaf-Friendly/Crunch N Cream/Toilet Noises” with influences from Noise/Silence/Mysticism and Ghost Towns, I was intrigued. Members included David Ports: Green to White Technician, Boone Ipstenu: Shaman, Jay Schwartz: Meat Puncher, Sam Tygiel: Airbender, Steve Bergquist: Party Master and The Haint: मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय (Hindu prayer for peace). I will leave it to you to figure this out but it fits into the vibe that this band emanates. Many times this signals a pretentious sense of self worth, but I feel a humble whimsy instead of arrogance from Maeth. Sense of humor always goes a long way with me anyway and the descriptions alone made me laugh. Then I listen to their offerings (all of it in one fall swoop after being hooked on song one!). Just… Damn! The music was not at all what I expected and my choice was immediately made for this week’s State of the Art. Progressive, Psychedelic, Atmospheric Heavy Doom would be how I would describe it using all of the modern sub-genre of a sub-genre speak, but this does not even come close to describing Maeth. They are no freaking joke. This is raw, unadulterated, blatantly honest music that hits hard, backs off and then blindsides you from the other side. No rules apply. None. Astonishingly beautiful controlled chaos. I am truly astounded that this works as well as it does. Most songs are instrumentals based on a firm foundation of drums following either sharp, catchy lead riffs or low blasted guitar rhythms and thick, atmospheric bass lines that range from distorted to fuzzy to clean and are among the best out there without being overplayed. There are even some shredding that most bands would kill to emulate. Flute, natural sounds of the forest, lovely acoustic guitar parts and talking are interspersed throughout to keep you off balanced and always wanting more. If there are lyrics, they are usually just below the surface or talked through and usually serious in nature (again, pun intended). The band may have a sense of humor but take their music very seriously. Needless to say, there is no box that can contain Maeth. There are influences from everything in here. Jazz, Hard Rock, Metal, Doom, a bit of fingerpicked Folk; and on and on. As good as the playing is, to be able to compose such unbelievably labyrinthine textured, multifaceted pieces while consistently remaining heterogeneous to their sound and direction is nothing short of spectacular. This is an amazing band with a feel like no other. Really, really incredible!
As of today, Maeth have two releases with one on the imminent horizon which may be called Smooth Mountain (check their site and make the determination if this is real or not LOL!). Horse Funeral was released in 2012 and contains “Horse Funeral”, “Ganges”, “Wytches” (my favorite), “Haint” and “Green to White” which was engineered, mixed and mastered by Adam Tucker at Signaturetone Recording and produced by Maeth and Adam Tucker. The wicked album art was done by Adahn and Ian Stewart. Their second release was in the Fall of 2013 called Oceans Into Ashes. Production and artwork are credited to the same group as above. Songs included on this full length CD include “Prayer”, “The Sea In Winter”, “Nomad”, “Sages”, “Wolves”, “Burning Turquoise”, “Fossil Eyes”, “Troödon”, “Blackdamp”, “Eulogy” and “Big Sky”. Each song could easily stand on it’s own as most have so many changes in sound, feel and texture but is best taken in in the context of the entire release to feel the full weight of Maeth’s sound. This is one of those bands that cannot be listened to just once and expect to feel how much pure virtuosity and soul this concept of music fulfills. I have the distinct feeling that Maeth is going to be with me for quite some time into the future. With a little luck, we will get the new CD, but look forward to getting my head wrapped around everything else in the mean time. All of their self deprecating humor aside, Maeth are seriously good!