Review: Sigiriya ‘Maiden Mother Crone’

It can’t be easy to follow in the wake of your own legend. A well loved and respected band breaks up and the members go on to a new project and all too often they’re up against the expectations of those who were there before and the indifference of those who weren’t. Meanwhile they can never quite shake off the constant comparisons to the past. But it’s hard to talk about a band like Sigiriya without mentioning what came before, what with three of their current members being part of legendary Welsh hippie doomers Acrimony, (read my Chronicles Of Wode review here).

Sigiriya ‘Maiden Mother Crone'

Sigiriya‘s sound and style isn’t too many light years away from Acrimony’s cosmic heaviness, but this is not the same band. The guitar tone and riff style is familiar, there’s a similar sense of weight and scale, and there are recognisable spiritual and natural themes. However, let’s stop the comparisons there, because Sigiriya is very much its own thing. Maiden Mother Crone, the band’s third album, is loud and clear, with an enormous heaviness, soaring vocals, and steady hammering rhythms. It has an unashamedly modern production that’s boosted and shining, creating an all-encompassing immersive sound – the perfect way to present eight epic tracks that command earth and sky and bare the soul.

The album takes a few steps before jumping from the cliff edge to soar and surge with Mantis, a hypnotic guitar riff weaving back and forth as earth-shattering drums pound and crash with an economic but hard -hitting beat and thunderous fills. And what a voice! Matt ‘Pipes’ Williams harnessing incredible power as his vocals soar and lift towards the heavens. There’s a touch of sitar giving things something of an eastern flavour, before things switch to a grungy but grooving riff preceding a brief tribal stomp. It sounds like an ode to the power of mother nature herself.

Continuing in much the same vein but at half the speed, Cwn Annwn has a slower wintery vibe. With the album art in mind, I find myself picturing huge and beautiful landscapes, towering snow-peaked mountains and vast open sky. The song has a massive slow motion striding feel, totally alive and under complete control. The constant pace and restrained precision of the drums leaves a lot of space for the intricacies of the guitars, the drive and swing of the bass, and the impressive drawn out vocal lines. That sense of size and space seems to be key to Sigiriya‘s sound. Nothing is overplayed, everything gets equal room to fill its corner, and when it’s time for a chorus, guitar lead, or heavy driving beat to take charge, it’s given the space it needs to carry the song.

Third track Tau Ceti has something of a grungy groove, complete with a big chorus and forlorn feel. The guitar adds lots of subtle and not-so-subtle character with slivers of sound such as open chords, pinches, and moments of wah as things build to a tom-heavy ritualistic close. Peace Of My Mind is in a similar vein, but with bass really coming through in the mix. These tracks are less doomy, a little more introspective and human. While Sigiriya are fond of a few song writing elements they use regularly, there’s a constant inventiveness to the guitar playing of Stuart O’Hara so that each song has at least one unique section that’s unlike any other on the album.

Maiden Mother Crone, the band’s third album, is loud and clear, with an enormous heaviness, soaring vocals, and steady hammering rhythms…

The first riff of Seeking Eden sounds like a different band as things take on a contemporary grunge rock sound. There’s still that heavy backbone, but there’s something more delicate going on here. The guitar and vocals sounding almost tender before a lead break that’s melodic and ethereal, maybe even bordering on a commercial sound for just a moment, before things take a more discordant, foreboding turn. Sounds like Eden wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Sigiriya like to keep things interesting and never let the songs fall victim to formula.

Shortest track Dark Call hammers right into the doomy heart of the matter, the battering groove giving way to a mellow haze of expanse and reflection. It’s a compact epic and a great example of Sigiriya’s ability to craft tightly written songs that waste no time in getting to their most exhilarating and important parts. Pure release without any tedious build up.

Arise (Darkness Died Today) has the mournful touch of classic doom paired with a bluesy stoner groove. Subtle shifts to bring the tempo down along with the power of the riffs give the feel of hanging in and holding on, looking out towards ‘a beacon on the distant shore.’

Lyrically, the album appears to take in eastern spirituality and mysticism, Welsh folklore, celestial inspiration, and a personal hopeful vibe. But the music is never bogged down with any of these elements, there’s no sense of pseudo-spiritual navel-gazing or self-indulgent musing, and neither does it come across as shallow or contrived. Maiden Mother Crone carries a real sense of careful attention paid to the experience of the album as a whole.

As the name suggests, Crushed By The Weight Of The Sky is massive. Serpentine and off-kilter guitar leads, spoken word, and organ sounds accompanying a weighty set of riffs. And while it’s huge and heavy, it’s not grim. It’s still got that Sigiriya vibe, like looking out towards the horizon of an immense plane in a world of wonders and knowing you’re going to make it no matter what. The sound of heart and soul and determination, channelling the forces of self, spirit, nature and the cosmos. In a word: epic. And as that final riff slows and slows, bringing the album to a close, it’s refreshing to be energised rather than exhausted.

If you enjoyed the journey, you’re very likely to go back to the start and set out again right away.

Label: Burning World Records
Band Links: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Josuph Price