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Fat.Mo.Mac - Fat.Mo.Mac Award winner

by Vladimir “Abir” Leonov at 18 June 2015, 5:42 PM

Even those whose heads are deep dug into the bloodiest growls and most cutting-edge shreds aren’t immune to the spell of the blues. Take for instance Lars Johansson, the guitarist of the pioneering Swedish doom metal band CANDLEMASS, uncovering his so far hidden nostalgic yearn to the roots of the 70s blues rock brought to the heaviest level ever imaginable in a form called “hard rock”. No wonder, as da blooz (the grand-daddy of metal) is as well the first genre having been associated with satanic connotations. And what a Faustian pact then, as talent in return for one’s soul seemed a fair trade!

That is the synopsis of “how FAT.MO.MAC. was brought to life”. From an overall view, the nine tracks of their eponymous debut release merged blues with hard rock with each leaning to a certain degree to one side rather than the other although in practice, the fine line between both camps is undetectable. Consequently, the bluesy ones can be classified as melodic, “slided” guitar riff-based with vocals replicating the main riff as opposed to the vocal-based more rhythmic and chordal hard rock tracks which come as edgier, groovier, with a veritable drum-bass couple as the chef d’orchestre. (I was about to dress a comparative table, but it doesn’t seem compatible with a review format!)

With hints of psychedelic rock marking that period of transition between blues and hard rock proudly displayed right from the first track “Walk Alone”, the on-fire vocals of CANDLEMASS’ Mats Leven also constitute a transition between the psychedelic distortion and the glam rock falsetto, so rocky yet nailing the way harder blues scales to bits.  In disparity with “Walk Alone” the Robert Johnson-styled slided southern blues riff in “So Bad It feels” is not only so striking but modernized till a point that rings a bell with the sublime rendition that Jimmy Page reconstructed to the traditional gospel of “In My Time Of Dying”. Otherwise, LARS’ slide can also flow within chords – think of ZZ TOP - in the low tempo boogie-like “Always Like That” bringing back the glorious days of the twelve bar structure and reviving the early 30s and 40’s blues all while adopting the eastern approach of duplicating guitar main riff into vocal melodies. This is the kind of music you should drive your car to!

Seriously, no wonder CANDLEMASS placed their bet on such a gifted singer as the almost nude vocal-based “Broken Down” reveals Mats’ vocals at their absolute apex, hats off. Smoothly progressing with implicit yet consistent instrumental backup where all keeps relatively stumm witnessing performance at its best, the melody is deep, tricky and unexpectedly twisted, massively highlighted by such assertive and profound drum beats as well as the task distribution on guitars where the rhythm guitar plays the main riff while the music man unleashes his scorching guitar solo. Another thumbs up to the mastering of vocal micro-tuning in the most emotion-filled track “Memories Is All There Is”, probably the odd man concerning the scale. Still, the guitar sinusoids makes your knees crack, and as if it wasn’t enough, almost every track ends with a killer of a solo.

Moreover, some tracks draw particular attention. Firstly, the funky penchant in “Cold Woman” - a heavy funk per se - implicate a massive drumming with breathtaking breaks and on top of all, a Motown-level bass line, managing to extract the best of the rhythm section.  Secondly, the “Rollin’ Stone” (by MUDDY WATERS) touch on the riff of “Get Home”, which is –as opposed to the previous tracks- stands out as the most stripped-down and traditional blues adherent. Last but not least, two vocal-free tracks, “Kickback” and the crystal clear boogie of “Gearshifter” demonstrate the amazing guitar artistry incorporating slide, tapping, tremolo picking and everything in between in sheer appraisable craft and dexterity that you should definitely give another listen.

Immensely influenced by the Texan variant of blues, FAT.MO.MAC. blends hard rock based on heavy chords with bluesy acute slides all opting for distortion rather than of the acid rock overdriven effect. Staunchly abiding by the old school song structure,   something kept “redounding” I guess mostly because of a same scale on several tracks despite the obvious diversification efforts.

To be honest, no rock band took me by surprise like this since RIVAL SONS’s debut album, however unlike the latter which was thoroughly stuck to the old formula, the hereby one - as old-fashioned as it sounds – is more taken in depth, processed and rejuvenated, thus bridging two different eras – that of bottom bell tighties and hippie manes to the wind - by profiting from the editing advantages of nowadays.

This is the epitome of the darn rock, hard as hell yet sensitive to the core like a true bluesman. Go grab it!

4 Star Rating

1. Walk Alone
2. So Bad It Feels
3. Broken Down
4. Kickback
5. Always Like That
6. Cold Woman
7. Memories Is All There Is
8. Gearshifter
9. Get Home
Lars Johansson – Guitar
Mats Levén – Vocals
Roger Eklöf – Guitar
Tobbe Moen – Bass
Stefan Gunnarsson – Drums
Klas Gunnerfeldt - Guitar
Record Label: Red Tomb Records


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Edited 01 June 2020

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