Maelstrom
Of Gods and Men

Are you ready for some Long Island NY Thrash Metal??  Then give me a Hell Yeah!!  I still can’t hear you!  HELL YEAH!!!.  That’s more like it.  Ok, a little bit of personal info and then onto the review.  I grew up on Long Island and seen Maelstrom live several times on the island back in the late 80’s.  While death metal was gaining momentum thrash was still going on.  I had seen bands like Kronin, Cold Steel and Maelstrom several times live and was really into their brand of thrash metal.  My brother was a decent guitarist and I can remember him trying out for Maelstrom.  Guitarist Joe Lodespoto came over to my parents house and was jamming on guitar with my brother.  It was super cool.  While my brother did not get the gig – still cool nonetheless.

Maelstrom had some things going on for them and other than putting out some demos a record deal was never reached.  The band disbanded in 1994 and then came back in 2005 and released an ep in 2008.  Being in a band is a lot of work – folks and well families and relationships come to fruition and then bands take a back seat.  One of the reasons, I feel, Maelstrom never got the kudos they deserved is quite frankly they were always quite advanced in the 80’s.  Rather than going for some of the typical and more popular forms of thrash metal Maelstrom were all over the place, with their progressive and technical styles that it simply went over the average listener’s head.  Well after many long years Joe’s fruition has seen a reality with their debut album – Of Gods and Men.  10 songs in 70” so it’s a lot to take in.  If you were a fan of the demos and ep – well look no further as the band has reworked those songs and they sound better than ever.

Starting with one of their most popular songs – if not their most, from back in the day, “Arise”, at over 6 minutes starts with some atmospheric parts and acoustic brilliance and Spanish Flamenco style from Joe.   The band rounded out by Gary Vosganian on vox and Daniel Kleffmann on drums and Joe also playing bass guitar incredibly well.   The song reaching a crescendo and then going into the catchy riffing and Gary still showing his pipes have held up after all these years.  The production is absolutely killer.  Hey across the album we even get some keyboard action and some female vocals at times, so a lot going on and at the 3:15 mark Joe laying in some killer guitar solos and then you can see why this band went over many people’s heads.

Mixed in with the speed and thrash Joe having a knowledge and guitar playing ability that soars to the outer limits – far beyond many guitarists in many well known acts.  Joe just runs circles around them.  The solo continues going up and down and then the main riff going full throttle thrash with Daniel laying in some killer double bass and nice layered vocals over the chorus parts.  We even get some choral chanting in the background, which was a little earlier in the song.  The song then trailing off, as it first started.  “Army from Ash”, having some start and stop poly-rhythmic parts to it, with some scorching bass guitar plucking.  The song gets into some melodic moments and a nice little pinch harmonic to lop your pathetic head from your decrepit body.  The start n stop part continues and is really damn heavy and some melodic vocals and guitar solo.  Some acoustic moments and more atmospheric parts throughout the song until the start n stop heaviness comes back ready to drive you right into the ground.  Simply outstanding.

“The Mirror Calls” gets more into the speedier thrash metal and Gary spouting out the vocals like he wants to rip your soul from your body and send it to hell.  More melodic moments and more atmosphere, mixed in with off-kilter progressive musical moments that are really mind-bending.  The album closes with the epic 12+ minute number “SonRise”.  Again starting with atmospherics and more incredible Italian/Spanish acoustic moments then right into the brutal mid-paced rumbling heaviness with a few more pinch harmonics to rip you in half.  Excellent vocals and the double bass over this moment sounds great, organic and true.  Some aria inspired vocals and ethereal moments.  The thrash mid-paced rumbling heaviness returns and sounds amazing.

Man I can’t praise Of Gods and Men enough.  Will it go over many listener’s heads?  That would be a yes.  I can compare them to Atheist in some respect.  Imagine if Atheist never played death metal and went thrash progressive/tech jazz what it would sound like…well it would sound a bit like Maelstrom I suppose, because I do notice some Atheist song structure like moments and of course the technical prowess is there.  Maelstrom were ahead of their time 30 years ago and still are to this day.  The songs sound incredible with the updated production and advanced abilities of the band members.

A 70” album is not easy to digest, but there is sooooo much amazing stuff going on musically on this album, that to not hear it is a crime, as far as I am concerned.  The album cover is fantastically whimsical and really this is one of the most thought-provoking, advanced thrash metal albums ever released.  Please like their FB page, support the band, sign their emailing list and hear an album your musical ears will thank you for afterwards.  Buy or Die!!!!!

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
September 8th, 2020

Comments

  1. Commented by: Steve K

    Didn’t know a thing about the dudes – this is super fun! Thanks for shedding some light, Frank!


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