Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tunguska Mammoth - S/T

Upon first listen, you might think Montreal’s Tunguska Mammoth were the French-Canadian, stonery-sludge answer to Mastodon or Baroness. But that doesn’t tell the entire story.

With their new sci-fi concept album about a meteor that unleashes a bleak apocalyptic future via invincible wooly mammoths, these four young men have created a monster of a record. I say new, but the first three songs were self-recorded in the band’s rehearsal space and released in 2011 as the E.P. ‘First Chapters’. After a successful crowd-funding campaign, Tunguska Mammoth entered a proper studio to capture their self-titled debut.

Pummeling and relentless, Tunguska Mammoth (the album) is first and foremost a hard charging, guitar kaleidoscope. Wave after wave of powerful riffs, the kind that pin you down and force you to hand over your wallet, seem to come from all angles. Adding to the intensity, singer-guitarist Maxime Bellerose’s vocals are not for the faint of heart. His epic shouts plow through the songs like a heavy metal drill sergeant, almost as if Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta was singing for Helmet.

As rewarding as these heavy headbangers are, the more intricate sections really showcase the band’s musicality, not to mention allow some respite for your soon-to-be-sore neck. Songs like “Dark Age” and the atmospheric instrumental “Jötunn”  are both dark and desperate, giving some melancholic mood to this riff apocalypse. There are also experimental, expansive bits that call to mind a more progressive vibe, in addition to the technical finesse of Pierre-Hugues Rondeau’s fantastic drumming (see “Mother Earth”).

Despite the esoteric subject matter, fans of genre-shifting loud rock and metal will find something to immediately connect with in Tunguska Mammoth. “March of the Titan” is a huge bluesy, swampy romp, capped with a thrash metal bender. “Of Beasts and Men” sounds like Matt Pike sitting in at a Clutch show. “Parabellum” and “The Plan” both have a killer Quicksand vibe. I hear the influences of Sepultura, Lamb of God, The Sword, stoner, sludge, and classic rock as well as the occasional faint nods to black metal and hardcore on this record, all tastefully blended for a unique approach.

So don’t sleep on Montreal’s best kept secret. Give ‘em a spin and keep an eye out for them down the road.

--Steve Janiak ( Devil to Pay)

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