Review: Mars Red Sky & Queen Of The Meadow EP

Having formed in 2007, and now with almost half a dozen releases under their belt, you would have thought that any hardened heavy music fan may well have an awareness of the French three-piece Mars Red Sky. Sadly, this isn’t the case, and I must confess that I fall into that demographic. Up until recently, it’s a name I hadn’t come across, and even if I had, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what the band sound like.

Mars Red Sky & Queen Of The Meadow
Mars Red Sky & Queen Of The Meadow Artwork

Now, thankfully, I can put that into the past and say with hand on heart that I know very well who this fuzzy stoner band are, with first-hand knowledge of the imminent release of this EP, which features guest vocals from Queen Of The Meadow, aka Helen Ferguson.

While the release is only three tracks, it is no less a chugging monster, which is as abrasive as it is heavenly. Firmly rooted in the stoner psych bracket, based on the dirty bass goodness alone, it’s a feast for the ears, which will leave you wanting more, right from the dying moments of the final track.

Opening with Maps Of Inferno, the slow and apprehensive start evolves into a heavy drudge, with the minimum of fuss. The mix of slow plucked guitar, and mid-pace drum rhythm is joined by a dirge of bass, and the whole thing blossoms into a lavish smörgåsbord of sound. With the pace set, Queen Of The Meadow’s ethereal vocal rolls in after a couple of minutes adding to the intensity.

While it is coherent, it feels incredibly dark and sinister. At times retro, with an air of ‘sixties ’60s or ‘seventies ’70s about it. It breaks down around the halfway mark and morphs into a more tranquil experience, where harmonising vocal tones lead the way. In its final third it reclaims its intensity, and as the whole thing rises back into its harder and darker atmosphere, so too do the feelings of darkness and sullenness.

Out At Large is, in its very nature, a truly different beast. It has a space age fuzz to it, again with that heavy, fuzzy reverb throughout. Bassy and heavy, this once again pulls at a ‘60s vibe, and so too there is an air of Sabbath in the mix. The vocal is, again, smooth and smoky which sets the piece beyond standard stoner fayre. There is a real The Cranberries/Dolores O’ Riordan vibe in the vocal. This isn’t to say that the tune is in any way The Cranberries sounding, but that vocal, boy does it remind me of Dolores.

slow plucked guitar, and mid-pace drum rhythm is joined by a dirge of bass, and the whole thing blossoms into a lavish smörgåsbord of sound…

I imagine this to be a stoners dream really, it is intoxicating, it isn’t overpowering, the vibe is chilled, and on the intensity levels, it’s around a four out of ten, at most, but it’s uber cool, and I think this is for me, the highlight of the whole EP.

Maps Of Inferno (Shortcut) is just that, a shortened version of the opening track. A large chunk of the opening has gone, and it leads straight in with that fuzzy bass line. Whereas the opener is seven minutes and seventeen seconds, this version is cut back to a mere four minutes forty-four.

This doesn’t mean that anything is overly sacrificed in the purge, beyond some of the opening, and the harmonised middle, but for me, this makes it more cohesive. By stripping it back, it gives it a more standard run through, and even though I like the breakdown in track one, the tempo is smoother on this ‘shortcut’ version.

As it comes to an end, I feel a real sense of completion. While it hasn’t been my standard album content to review, it’s been a welcome surprise all the same. It really has made me want to go back and delve deeper into the world of Mars Red Sky. Hopefully, this has been the tip of a very exciting iceberg, (if that were to be a thing) where I can’t wait to see which way the band will take me next.

It’s been a thoroughly enthralling little ride and one that I would be happy to experience time and time again.

Label: Mrs Red Sound | Vicious Circle Records
Mars Red Sky: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram
Queen Of The Meadow: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish