I’ve always liked Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. I’ve always respected them, listened to them, and added them to a few playlists.
But I could never get past the silly name. No matter how ‘thru the veil’ Jessica’s singing sounded, how it gave me a rush and a tingle, they just didn’t win me over the way Besvarjelsen and Messa have.
And no, it has nothing to do with the name change MWWB, which is still silly. Maybe it’s the right time, the right place, the right mood. Whatever it is, I get them now. Actually, I know what it is: they’ve written and recorded a masterpiece that makes good on all their promise.
There’s no other word for it: masterpiece.
There have been quite a few reviews of this album so far, mostly very positive. One observation I’ve seen a few times is the ‘John Carpenter’ style of synthesizer. The album also reminds me of Vangelis, and his legendary work on Blade Runner. I admit, I’m a sucker for 70’s and 80’s references, including synth styles. MWWB has done the best incorporation of these techniques since Haken’s amazing Affinity (which I can’t believe is 6 years old!).
Pure technique and form aside, MWWB might even be superior. The Harvest is essentially a master class on how to mix styles and genres, and they’ve tapped into the darker, doomier side of synth better than anything I can think of in recent years.
Sure, Ufomammut’s Eve is heavier and even more atmospheric, but the synth application is more like a spice or flavoring. With The Harvest it’s a full side-dish, with Betrayal following Logic Bomb as a cinematic segue into Altamira. And unlike most transitional pieces, I don’t want this one to stop!
In fact, I’m tempted to focus on just the synth pieces, until I hear the next doom-inspired song that finally has all the hooks and snarl that the earlier albums promised but only delivered sporadically. The synth carries over into these tracks as well, a decision that I think lends a cohesiveness and continuity that enhances the whole album.
Make no mistake, this is an album, seemingly constructed to listen to, from beginning to end. Not a rock-opera or even a concept album as much as a holistic experience. I think this is destined to take its place among my most cherished albums from decades past: Who’s Next, Zoso, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Larks Tongues in Aspic, to name drop a few. It also joins another recent album into “the best thing I’ve ever heard” category…
I’ve listened to this album on speakers, earbuds, car stereo, and horrible blue tooth headphones. No matter how pristine or abysmal the equipment is, the entire album shines through. Every track makes me want to hit the repeat button, until the next one propels me forward. I’m just not used to this kind of quality and it’s hard to believe that the next song really is going to be as good as the last. By the time closer Moon Rise closes with a stripped-down, minimalist dirge, I’m brought to tears, every time. And then I let it start from the beginning again.
I don’t always like to give ratings, but this is a cautionary 8 out of 10, and by the end of the year it might even inch up higher. I can predict that I’ll be coming back to this, month after month. I won’t be surprised if it’s still on regular rotation 10 or 20 years from now.
Highly, utterly, completely recommended. If you can afford to do so: buy this darn album! MWWB deserve to make some serious money with this release…