Hot on the heels of bands such as Graveyard, Witchcraft and Horisont Sweden throws up yet another retrogressive bunch of hairies looking back to the halcyon days of the 70’s for their musical kicks in the form of Mother Of God. Coming from the Small Stone stable you immediately know that this is going to be a decent release as it carries the same Small Stone stamp of quality as all of their label mates’ recent releases but what sets these guys apart?
Well, although the Mother Of God sound does draw heavily from the 70’s they do manage to inject some tasty grunge overtones that bring to mind bands such as Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. In particular the vocals of Daniel Nygren occupy the same sort of territory as the much missed Layne Staley and prove to be very much a strong selling point of this album being both powerful, melodic and impassioned. This guy definitely has an impressive set of pipes on him that give the album that much needed sense of identity, particularly on tracks such us “Aim For The Sun” and “Windows” which are instilled with the same grinding sense of gloomy dramatics and offbeat rhythmic pulsing as Soundgarden’s “Louder Than Love” album.
Elsewhere, putting the Seattle sound comparisons aside, Mother Of God do draw from the familiar well of influences such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin offering up a platter packed with fat, juicy riffs and huge grooves as well as shrewd shifts in dynamics such as the bluesy, Floydesque strains of “Adrift” to prevent the whole listening experience from being too one dimensional. It has to be said there is also a certain “Swedishness” that is obvious in the band’s sound. It’s hard to put a finger on it but there is a particular thread that seems to run through bands such as Greenleaf, Skanska Mord and Horisont that bands outside of Sweden don’t really have…a subtle combination of melancholy and the grandiose. Maybe this is down to living in country that is afflicted by long periods of near darkness each year, yet being surrounded by some of the most beautiful women in the world!!! That said Mother Of God aren’t afraid to hit the gas and rock out with some fine boogie on tracks such as “To Live and “Hoenan”.
If I have one slight issue with Mother Of God it is the same as the issue I had with their recent label and tour mates Abrahma, that being while this album is playing it is certainly a very fine listen and has everything in the right places…the playing is excellent, particularly the aforementioned vocals, the production is warm and thick with great clarity and punch and the riffs are great…yet once the album has finished spinning there are only a few vague snatches that remain in my memory and this is after several listens over the space of a couple of months. Even as I sit here writing this review listening to the album as I go, the earlier songs on the album have largely faded from view. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes it’s the overall vibe and sound of an album that has the true appeal over the actual hooks and melodies but this is a band that have the ability to create some great music and to play it to a high standard, so I would like to hear that matched with some truly killer refrains that will pull me back in again and again and as yet I’m not certain that will happen.
Criticisms aside, this is yet another very fine album from the Small Stone stable that shows the label is not so firmly rooted in spit and sawdust biker rock and has a keen eye for talent on a worldwide scale.
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall