Colony of Machines

It goes without saying that it’s difficult for a band to stand out in a crowded field. With dozens of bands all mining similar influences and plying similar styles, you either have to turn in an incredibly convincing performance that elevates what might otherwise be mundane or you have to apply a twist on the formula that differentiates your sound from the next band over. Nowadays, the incredible glut of bands fiddling with the Isis/Neurosis/Mouth of the Architect formula means plenty of decent bands will have trouble capturing an audience, as there simply are too many good bands out there. This is the position two piece Ohio sludge outfit Mollusk find themselves in.  They execute a well-worn style well, with nice chugging guitars, a keen sense of dynamics and flow, and a convincing melodic sense. Unfortunately, initial hopes that Colony of Machines would rise above the modern sludge detritus are dashed as the latter portion settles in to well-worn genre tropes, which as good as they are, don’t leave a lasting impression.

Opener “Shifting Decay” is the highlight here and a promising show of the band’s talents. They tread the down tempo shifting chord work with rumbling elliptical percussion, and shift downhill to a dirty rhythmic section. Vocal roars wail above the head nodding bounce before the tone shifts to trudging sludge. They cut this off with a roiling piece of swarming drums ala High on Fire, broken periodically by gruff vocal exhortations. The maelstrom of aggression shifts to some down tempo chugging, wrapping up a solid opener that lays the groundwork for a devastating EP.

Unfortunately, the band never returns for another cathartic bout of aggression, instead opting for a more straightforward sludge sound echoing Neurosis and Amenra. The chord progressions and ambiance are similar as they touch upon the same emotional malaise and dour post-rock atmospheres currently touted by any number of modern sludge fans. This says nothing to the quality of the tracks, as “Hollowed”, the short shot “Colony of Machines”, and closer “Denisova”, are all effective pieces of heavy, somber music, but they never return to the cathartic boiling point of the closing portions of the opening song.

Mollusk is a band in the midst of an evolution. The shorter format of their debut with its linking songs and transitional ambient pieces has moved to longer song arrangements that allow them more room to gradually adjust tone, atmosphere, and tempo. And though the songwriting has matured and improved, the band would do well to incorporate more of the hard edged aggression they so aptly display in “Mirrored Sphere” from their debut and on “Shifting Decay” from Colony of Machines. The added diversity would make their post-rock influence sludge forays more impactful and the already brutal aggressive passages even more deadly.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chuck Kucher
January 20th, 2014


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