- Forcing Tyson to change the rankings to I can give this album 4.25 stars
First, I’d like to apologize to Blue Mammoth, a four-piece Progressive Rock group from Brazil. I’ve had their self-titled debut since summertime, which means I’m months late on bringing its music and message to our loyal Progulator following. I could make excuses, such as job turmoil, a move out of state, and plain negligence, but I think the best and most appropriate apology would be to listen carefully to their impressive 2011 debut and actually write a review. So… let’s get right into it in my typically scatterbrained style:
The first track is INCREDIBLE! In just three minutes and 22 seconds, the guys succeeded in blowing my mind, packing a ton of content into such a small space. They hit all the right chords, provided good use of consonant and dissonant phrases, played all the right keyboard patches, and had at least four interesting riffs. Fantastic introduction. The keyboard lead that starts in the middle of the track is energetic and well played, and reminds me a lot of my favorite keyboard work from Maldoror’s L’arbre Cimetière. A powerful introduction to the album, and really set the tone for what was to follow.
We get our first listen at the lead vocals (provided by keyboard player and composer Andre Micheli) in track two. Progressive rock has a somewhat shaky reputation for vocal stylings over the years, but not only do I think Andre has an excellent voice, he fits the band quite nicely. He has just enough of an edge to his voice to stand out in the mix, and he’s a skilled enough vocalist to hold down the melody.
Two things have stood out through multiple playthroughs of this album. The first is that I find Andre’s songwriting resonates well with me. He obviously pulls his influence from many different progressive rock groups, and this album is a complex melding of many different musical flavors. I hear plenty of different 70’s era progressive bands, some classical and modern classical, and maybe just a splish splash of jazz, and lots of excellent compositional ideas (not surprising, since Andre has a Master’s degree in Music Composition). The biggest benefit to the listener is that he/she will certainly remain interested from beginning to end, a huge plus for any band. Motifs are repeated seldomly but in the right places, and there are certainly a host of impressive musical passages to feast on.
The other aspect of the album that stood out was Julian Quilodran’s production and artistic direction. This album sounds quite good. All drums and cymbals aren’t spectacular but they fit well into the mix, the guitar and bass have consistently great tone in each piece, and when instrument and vocal parts pan they always seem to be in the right place. I could have used a little more depth in the snare drum, but I have very, very few complaints.
The albums is broken up into three song “groups” with tracks in between that don’t necessarily follow any particular theme. From what I can tell from fan response and from communication with Andre Micheli, “The Rain of Changes” suite seems to be a favorite, with the song “Growing” especially holding a special place for the band (it’s a great, ballad-like track with some fantastic keyboard work). My personal favorite is the “Blue Mammoth” suite, which comprises the first four tracks. It includes that incredible first track, a really cool concept, and my favorite vocal and chord progressions on the album. The longer concepts are original creations and ideas, while the other tracks take influence from philosophical texts.
Overall, I think that Blue Mammoth represents an excellent addition to this new era of Progressive Rock based on 70’s Symphonic Prog. They’ve crafted a striking, well-composed album that comes off as unique original and full of mystery and intrigue, and are certainly deserving of a listen.