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Cities Of Mars – Cities Of Mars Award winner

Cities of Mars
Cities Of Mars
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 20 June 2022, 4:57 AM

CITIES OF MARS is a sci-fi themed sludge/doom band from Sweden.  They formed in 2014 and this self titled album is their fourth full length; they have also released an EP. For those unaware, all their releases follow a story line about a hidden history between Earth, Mars and Atlantis.  Basically, the civilization of Atlantis on Earth stretched their empire out to Mars, which in turn, lead to a war back on Earth.  Fast forward to the year 1970, a Russian agent lands on the red planet to the lost remains of a city.

It is an interesting story line but fortunately, the music is just as engaging.  Overall, their tempo is slow and bass heavy like doom but they also have the abrasive riffs of sludge.  The band is only three members but they have a massive sound and are also very vocal focused considering they all three help out on that front. Their music also has a trippy, stoner doom vibe to it too.  Because of these myriad of styles, the band will appeal to a lot of different type of stoner/doom fans.  Even more so than previous album, this one really focuses on the story and the band does it by putting into the very flow of the album.  Of the eight tracks, one is an an intro and two more are interludes. While these three tracks fit into the overall flow of the help exceptionally well, that only works when the album is being played from the beginning to the end.  As stand alone songs, only “Songs Of  A Distant Earth,” really stands out.

With that being said, the five full length songs are lengthy and among the best they have written.  Not only have they zeroed in on their compositional skills, but the vocals have improved greatly as well. “Before The Storm,”  is the intro and there isn’t much about it to mention as it’s so short and seems to be there just to hook into the first proper track, “Towering Graves.”  This song kicks ass, with a big opening riff and one of the members yelling, “Buried Alive!” as the band takes it slow, deep, and hard.  The bass contains much of the rhythm, rolling over the melodic guitars and the drums are clear, concise, and compliments the song  at the right moments.  After the halfway point, the song gets a bit drone/ambient as the bass rolls out deep tones with simple guitar melodies that accompany them.

The Prophet” is a little dissonant in the begging but the drums are more than lively enough for both of us.  The vocals are really good here—yelling out over the slow groove of the riffs.  The drums prove themselves to be atmospheric, easily grabbing my attention and holding it for various parts of the song.   Near the end, the riffs get more intricate as do the vocal melodies—it really gives the song the push it needs to ride it out and finish with massive sludge riffs. “Songs Of A Distant Earth,” acts as a bridge between the songs but it is well done and surprisingly catchy.  I feel like there is an idea for a full length song here somewhere but it shows a different side of the band.

A Dawn Of No Light,” is a bit faster paced than the songs before—and definitely riff based with it’s huge sludge doom riffs galloping along. Throw in a trippy guitar solo and a groove that will knock your head off near the end, then we have one of the best songs the band has ever written. “The Dreaming Sky,” has a massive stoner doom vibe to it. The lead guitar is a standout, what with its emotional and slightly blues styled riffs.  The lead guitar is perfectly placed at the ride moments to keep the flow, which are the among the best they have done. “Reflected Skyline,” is one of the interludes I spoke up earlier.  It has a smokey, hazy atmosphere with light uses of clean vocals.  It isn’t a bad song as far as interludes ago but it doesn’t really go anywhere.

The Black Shard,” is the twelve minute epic that includes everything and the kitchen sink.  The beginning is laced with bass and lead guitar, but slowly builds up to huge riffs.  This is one of those songs that needs multiple listens to full enjoy—and it never gets old. While I don’t think the album is quite the same leap in quality from “The Horologist,” as that one was from their debut, this is still a damn fine album that will please any fans of the band.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Before the Storm
2. Towering Graves (Osmos)
3. The Prophet (Methusalem)
4. Song of a Distant Earth (Hathra)
5. Dawn of No Light (Chthon)
6. The Dreaming Sky (Anur)
7. Reflected Skyline (Sarraqum)
8. The Black Shard (Bahb-Elon)
Danne Palm – Bass, Vocals
Johan Kuchler – Drums, Vocals
Christoffer Noren – Guitars, Vocals
Record Label: Ripple Music


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