maudlin of the Well – Part the Second
Despite the obvious appeal of modern music to the masses, there are also a good deal of avid music listeners trapped in the nostalgia of “the good old days”, where bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson, and Yes filled stadiums with eager, flowery-looking fans. Yes, it may not seem like it now, but progressive rock had its day as well! Though its presence can still be felt with bands like the Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree, and an assortment of Swedish bands like Kaipa and The Flower Kings, it’s certainly no longer in the same state that it was in the late 60s and well into the 70s. However, rather than any of the aforementioned bands, Boston-natives maudlin of the Well (motW), composed a prog-rock masterpiece, quite in the same style one would have been accustomed to back in the day.
Though they’re usually known for complex, avant-garde metal, the recently reunited quintet has drawn on non-metal influences more and more with each release, and with the release of 2009’s Part the Second, their music is almost completely devoid in metal influence. In fact, “the Revisitation of the Blue Ghost”, which opens the album, does so beautifully with a seemingly prog-influenced chord progression, layered with dreamy streams of violin and cello. It then, slowly but surely, builds to an eerie drawl from vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Toby Driver – an almost Tom Waits-esque style, that seems to ooze from his mouth throughout the album– and builds into a folky, Floyd-like chorus. Regardless of the album’s prog-rock tendencies, the music takes on a myriad of different sounds throughout, employing classical, jazz, folk, and ambient influences, as well as many others. Although metal influence is minor, as was mentioned, there are post-metal moments in “Laboratories of the Invisible World”reminiscent of Isis, but that’s basically all the metal one will hear on this album.
While motW have yet to write a less-than-stellar album in their career, it’s rewarding to see bands like them constantly pushing the envelope and perhaps even inspiring, considering the classic style of progressive rock they brought back in this release (and in hoping more bands will do the same, in the future). While the metal-motW was certainly appealing on previous releases, the lack of metal on Part the Second made for an even better album, as it allowed the band to cover new ground and expand their horizons musically. Here’s to new beginnings and a breath of fresh air, in a rather stale prog-rock scene.