The first time I encountered Birmingham natives Mothertrucker, I expected them to just be a silly band with a silly name and silly song titles. Two out of three assumptions ain’t bad I suppose, but I very quickly came to realise that there’s nothing silly at all about these Brummie-based riff-mongers’ incredible brand of sludgy, instrumental post-metal. Now onto their sixth scintillating release of powerful, individual and talent-laden groove, it would be all too easy for the four-piece to crank out some half-baked riffs, chunk in some 4-4 beats and steal half of Isis’ well-worn chord progressions, but that’s never been what these particular ‘Truckers are about at all.
At just 30minutes long, ‘The Power of Independent Trucking’ takes on the guise of a mini-album or extended EP in the same fashion as previous Mothertrucker outputs in the form of the ‘Trebuchet’ compilation or the debut release ‘The Last Ride of Dr. Sanchez’, but yet it manages to take you on a musical journey that very few complete full lengths would be capable of mastering. Opener ‘Career Ender’ begins with a familiar and sleepily Mogwai-esque progression of near-acoustic pangs of emotion before slamming your forehead into a barstool of hardened, blunt-faced riffs from the guitars of Charlie Butler and Chris Scrivens. There’s simply never going to be room or a need for vocals in anything this band chooses to do as the gathering layers of strings and murky electronic pastiches speak to each other and to the listener as words and spells unto themselves.
Amazing Song-Title Numero Uno hits next with the brilliantly-monikered ‘Reef Do All the Work, The Beatles Get all the Credit’ – a sentiment I’m sure many a classic rock fan would agree with or at least enter into a debate to clarify. Somewhat thankfully, Mothertrucker spend the next six minutes sounding nothing like either Reef or The Beatles as they barrow-roll through fields of gloriously differentiated riffing scales; in the process, incorporating more musical styles into one song than many bands will achieve in an entire career. Heavy-handed drummer Bruce Goodenough once again proves he’s the anchor of this star-gazing collective and his complex patterns of omni-metal stick-work advise and inspire his trio of guitarists forward. At times here, Mothertrucker touch on bits of everything from space rock, jazz, shoegaze, indie rock, stoner and sludge before arriving at a final riff that could have made it onto Machine Head’s ‘Burn My Eyes’ debut. And that’s no insult. This is a stunning challenging and inventive piece of music.
After the storm of ‘Reef do all the yada yada yada…’, ‘Vigo the Carpathian’ (spot the obscure Ghostbusters reference!) is like the rainbow shining through the fading drizzle. Tom Moffat’s chunky basslines sit cosily beneath Butler and Scrivens experimentally picked solos as they grace and complement each other; slowly building up into a crescendo that will bring a grin to the face of any Pelican or ASIWYFA fan. There’s a sense of something eerie building at the finale, but Goodenough’s skilful crash-cymbals ensure that this is a puddle of muted aggression rather than a second downpour of devastating misery.
It’s about time for another ridiculously funny song-title isn’t it? Are you ready? You sure? I don’t think that you are… It’s genuinely difficult to write about a song named ‘Duff McKagan’s Kagan Wagon’ without descending into a giggling fit of sniggering schoolgirl proportions. TEE HEE HEE HEEEEE! See… Not the most immediately noticeable track on TPOIT from a musical point-of-view, this ode to Guns n’ Roses’ long-suffering bass-player is a gently strummed piece for the most part which then opens out into some slow n’ low stoner riffage and a searing Cult of Luna-ist background solo. Chin-stroking stuff.
As the feedback growls into the brief burst of Earth-worship that is ‘The Southern Teeth’, a gentle wave of sorrow gracefully rains down on the parade of magnificent riffs you’ve just gorged yourself on. It’s the post-metal equivalent of feeling like you’ve just walked into a packed wake whilst wearing a Batman and/or Robin costume. Not to worry though, we still have the hopeful beginning of closer ‘Crypt Stalker’ to pick us up from our guilt-ridden slump. Goodenough’s drums flake and cackle like Dick Dastardly concocting another devious scheme as Moffat’s belching bass throb grows ever louder. By the finale, Butler and Scrivens are in on the action too and all four musicians power out into a devastatingly heavy and thoroughly unhinged finale that sits somewhere between the mountains of Earthless’ madness and the genius, dancing finesse of Russian Circles.
To see how much this humble Midlands act have grown over the past ten years or so has been an absolute triumph and a pleasure and I’ve no hesitation in commending ‘The Power of Independent Trucking’ for all of its achievements to any of our readers . Silly sounding titles? Yes, maybe, but don’t come looking here for silly music, you’ll only find yet another highly intelligent and expertly-formed burst of progressive metal from these goddamn Mothertruckers.
Scribed by: Pete Green