Mar 21, 2012

Mendozza - Mendozza ...

I have to say I got off on the wrong foot with this band from Vancouver. Someone told me they sound like The Melvins and me not being much of a Melvins fan avoided this band for a long time. Since this album arrived, I have gone and checked out all their past works and the result of that is I can hear traces of The Melvins on albums like their 2007 album 'White Rhino' but I don't hear much of it at all on this self-titled 2012 release and for me, that is a good thing. What I hear now and in the past as well but especially now is a kind of Celtic Frost meets Kyuss meets High on Fire kind of hybrid but delivered in a pure doom metal fashion. The sound is low down and dirty but sometimes psychedelic but always full of hypnotic groove. Listening to all their past albums and then this one proved to me that Mendozza are a band that is ever-looking to do something different with each release. This time around, it is more stonerized, more riffy and dare I say, more demonic sounding. Chris Barnes of Hellride Music has this great quote about Mendozza that I have to share - "They started out with “Entombed meets the Melvins backstage at an old school Metallica concert" and have gradually become "Electric Wizard meets Solace at an old school Eyehategod concert."

That colorful description really does sum up the sound of this album but I also hear a lot of Tom Warriorism's and some High On Fire level of metallic intensity that is scattered throughout this 41 minute release. The band also show some great diversity right from the get-go. The opening duo of 'Ligature' and 'Ayahuasca' are two different approaches to doomy, stoner, riff-rock, whatever tag is in this week for this kind of music. The first is a bit unwieldy and ponderous while the second is faster and more direct. Whatever gear they choose to drive the song in; it is always extremely heavy and even the more up-beat sections sound doomy. That is another Celtic Frost trait - even their fastest songs from the early days sounded doom to me with Tom's guitar sound and playing style and Mendozza have a bit of that going on too. The next track 'Spirit Horse' is one half stoner-doom, one half psychedelic stoner jam and it is a monumental track that keeps your attention up for over 8 minutes. It is a little bit lumbering in parts but Mendozza are one of those rare bands that make lumbering metal sound hypnotic and interesting.

After that cool jammy tune comes the albums centerpiece 'Bifrost.' It is an instrumental and while it is not the longest track on the album, it still sounds like a grandiose epic. It is dark, moody and amazingly high in pensive apprehension. The band have a great knack of dramatic build-ups that climb in intensity only to let go at just the right time. 'The Undertaking' is a showcase for great guitar work especially the leads but seems a little underdone to my ears. The track is still more than good but it is one of the albums weaker passages or maybe it is just because it follows the excellent 'Bitfrost.' 'Born With A Black Tongue' is a short High On Fire meets classic Celtic Frost in-your-face kind of number. At only 2:39 it seems to steamroll over the top of you and ends before you have time for it to truly sink in. After replaying the track a few times, I discovered it is one of my favorite tracks - pity it is so short. The albums longest track ends the album which is something called 'Wishful Drinking.' On this track, the band pull out all the stops. It is total doom, stoner riff-rock and even has moments of heavy progressive rock. To call this track diverse would be an understatement. At first it seems like a 9 minute riff workout and not much more but after repeated spins, the track takes on a life of its own. This is my pick for best track on the album followed by 'Bitfrost' and 'Ligature.'

There is no doubt in my mind that this is Mendozza's heaviest offering thus far and it is also their darkest and most hypnotic. Also, after analyzing their other four albums, they just seem to be getting better with each release. For fans of Zoroaster, Kyuss, High On Fire, Celtic Frost and Black Pyramid - this is a perfect way to start off your Mendozza CD collection......9/10.

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