March 25, 2012

Review: Blue Mammoth-Self Titled Release

Fans of classic progressive rock will revel in the release of Blue Mammoth’s self-titled debut. From Brazil, Blue Mammoth plays a style of symphonic prog with orchestral instrumentation, similar to that of early era-Yes or Genesis. Maybe throw a little Jethro Tull in there too, for the vocals sake. Andre Micheli’s voice has subtle hints of Ian Anderson threaded throughout.

The melodic solo on “Growing” is pleasing. It’s refreshing when a prog rock band knows when and how to make the best use of the space between notes, as well as the notes themselves. “Growin’” begins the second of three song cycles on Blue Mammoth, each of which is separated by a single, stand-alone track. The lead melody on “Growin’” wafts in and out, always resurfacing when it can serve the song best. The same melody shared with the synth gives the whole song a modern texture with a classic feel.

Those song cycles I just mentioned, here’s the deal: The first one, entitled ‘Blue Mammoth,’ consists of tracks 1-4, the second (‘Rain of Changes’) is tracks 6-8, and the final micro-symphony (‘Quixote’s Dream’) is tracks 10-12. As I mentioned, each set is separated by a single track. “Metamorphosis,” aptly named, facilitates the transition from the first to the second, and “The Same Old Sad Tale” keeps the second from running into the third. There is a noticeable change in tone and mood by the time “The Same Old Sad Tale” hits; there’s no missing it. Overall I’d say this album is laid out very well. Each individual song is like a palate cleanser before the next larger indulgence. The second cycle rocks the hardest, and the third cycle incorporates elements of renascence composition lending it its own unique flavor.

For the most part, with Blue Mammoth, I tend to see the forest rather than the trees. That is to say, I don’t find myself focusing on specific parts (unless they’re by design prominently featured in the track), and rather taking in each track as the sum total of its parts, instead of measuring each component individually. At certain points the vocals shine a little too bright, but all in all it’s mixed evenly, allowing each voicing (both vocal and instrumental) to be heard.

The album is upbeat and accessible, with traditional structure and development. Blue Mammoth isn’t trapped by pedantic modes and fragile progressions. They play prog rock, not prog rock, and it should be listened to as such. Mild head-banging might occur, accompanied by the sporadic sparking of lighters. Blue Mammoth is a solid debut, and proves that progressive rock is alive and well, not yet relegated to relic status in this modern musical climate.

3.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Growin’, Winter Winds, Metamorphosis

Drew Vreeland

March 25, 2012

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