Mouth of the Architect
Path of Eight
7th October 2016 – Translation Loss
01. Ritual Bell
02. Fever Dream
03. The Priestess
04. Sever the Soul
05. Drown the Old
06. Stretching Out
07. Fallen Star
08. Path of Eight
Mouth Of The Architect might not be a household name but they’ve gradually built up a reputation for off-kilter post-metal over their career. Here they’re back with a new psychedelic effort, rammed to the gullets with far-out ideas and angular textures.
Mouth Of The Architect have an unusual take on their craft: striking a balance between chilled atmospherics and some busy heavier sections is standard fare for the genre, but here there are so many unusual textures that it’s a little overwhelming; from the phase/ flange-heavy guitar effects to the delay-soaked riffs that pepper the record, it’s a pedal nerd’s dream.
So many of their peers only come into their own with their more aggressive parts but there’s a real sense of personality to both extremes; their softer moments are lush and delicate and the heavier parts are thickly layered, densely-packed affairs. Crucial to why such a busy album works so well is the super-crisp production; instead of letting the ideas get lost in the mix, it presents them distinctly.
Path Of Eight begins with the established mix of sunny, shimmering psychedelics and Isis-inspired spacey heavy sections. Opener “Ritual” starts with a synth-laden intro, certainly striking a chord with Stranger Things fans. There’s a great play between the heavy/ light elements on “Sever the Soul” but particularly on “Fever Dream“, where a lot of the personality starts to shine through; where you’d expect riffs to repeat they suddenly mess up and go in a slightly different direction. Though the tracks are busy and unpredictable they’re never obtuse or impenetrable; again the production allows them to present complex ideas clearly.
Though this is a dense record, by the second half the themes start to coalesce. There are broody tracks scattered throughout the record (“The Priestess” being a solid example), but “Stretching Out” is much smoother and more ambient than its predecessors. The pattern of chilled vocals over thickly layered synths/ guitars starts to emerge. On the album-closing title track, the delay effect that’s been a common feature of their sound previously takes centre stage. The record benefits multiple close listens but even on a second take these elements are more apparent and the piece as a whole is more coherent.
There’s a great economy of songwriting at work on Path Of Eight: barely a wasted note on the whole record, and barely a misplaced effect or superfluous ambient section, which is crucial for a band who drop into atmospherics so often. Confusingly, the record simultaneously has a lot of space whilst remaining incredibly dense; it’s also extremely architectural whilst remaining completely focused on the sound of the instruments. These philosophies seem to contradict one another but here they mesh; the record is high-concept but it’s also accessible, listenable.
This record works well on a playlist with the recent Mamiffer and Russian Circles releases; 2016 has been a good crop. These bands are masters of their craft but none of them have the weird-out factor of Mouth Of The Architect. It’s much more than just using psychedelia as a building block to pack out a standard post-metal affair; the songs are all pretty unique outings, arranged artfully. This is a record to mull over even for seasoned fans for sure, but if you’re searching for metal that’s simultaneously sludge-dense and light as a feather, this is the record for you.