The noble art of the EP has been a good way for a band to test a new direction amongst its loyal fanbase, and this is no doubt the intent here, with this ep from Ohio sludge metallers Mouth Of The Architect. On their last album, ‘Quietly’ they peddled a solid but unremarkable line in Neurosis worship, with hints of Cult of Luna thrown in for good measure. It was all well and good, but nothing really to write home about, hence their inability to really crack the big leagues of ‘post metal’ or ‘sludge doom’ or whatever the fuck people call the music that sounds like this. Now, with a changed line up, this EP is an attempt to show that they can grow and move on and stuff.
All well and good, except what we really have here is a very poorly put together EP. Last year Cave In returned with an EP that was barnstorming, because it put forth their new sound with viguor, panache, style and most importantly cohesion. What we have here instead are two new songs, one old live song with the old line up, and a Peter Gabriel cover that sounds nothing at all like the old or the new material. Of the new material they do have, opener ‘The Violence Beneath’ displays that the band’s new direction is actually quite interesting, with the ‘Times of Grace’-era Neurosis riff being tempered with some Kylesa sludge and more of a doomy, Eyehategod swagger. The vocals are quite crushing, with a two pronged attack that works really well. It could perhaps do with either a little more variation over its seven minute length, or by being a bit shorter, but it comes out of the gate kicking and screaming, and is pretty impressive. Second track ‘Buried Hopes‘ shows that the band have heard the last Converge album, and really liked its closing track, and so they would like to do something along the same lines. Before they get to the Converge-y bit though, they nick ‘Steel That Sleeps the Eye‘ off the last Baroness album as an intro. It’s not a bad song, but it is derivative to the point of pointlessness.
After the two new tracks, the live performance of a new song ‘Restore,‘ sounds like it was off the last album (and left off for a reason) and is perfectly acceptable, in fact quite a nice production for a live recording. But again, pointless. As for the cover of Peter Gabriel‘s ‘In Your Eyes‘ well, it’s a cover of a Peter Gabriel song. It’s slow, quite pretty, a bit doomy, and quite pleasant, if ultimately a bit forgettable. Although, to be fair, I find listening to Peter Gabriel to be the aural equivalent of watching Hollyoaks. No matter how much I focus on it, my brain refuses to acknowledge its existence, so it sucks time out of my life and leaves a bitter shallow husk. Much like Peter Gabriel, one imagines.
So overall, the first track does what the EP is supposed to, which is showcase a new direction for a band that seems to struggle to find its own place in a crowded scene, but the rest of the EP seems determined to work to counteract that. With a bit more effort you could imagine that this could have been an interesting move, and I hope that by the time their new line up brings out a new album proper, that we can see more of the former, and less of the latter.