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Pale Mare - II Award winner

Pale Mare
by Dave Nowels at 25 March 2020, 9:04 AM

PALE MARE are a Toronto based trio, and are poised to release their second effort, appropriately designated, “II”, on April 3rd. I'm only seeing that this will be a digital and vinyl release, with the LP version being released in a triad of options, with each limited to only 100 copies. So, based on that, here's a spoiler, order now. Especially if crushingly heavy, punkish power is your thing. The album is essentially a quasi EP, with only four tracks, and clocking in at just about 30 minutes. But don't let that stop you. This is about quality rather than some trivial argument about quantity.

The trio is comprised of bassist, and primary lyricist, guitarist and vocalist Eytan Gordon, and finally, drummer and vocalist Kevin Roberts. Yeah, two vocalists, and the way they snake in and out, is definitely fascinating, and reminds one of an early NEUROSIS. Musically, this is pretty much everything you could ever wish for. Gordon's guitar work is Matt Pike-ish in steadiness, with Mike Scheidt's fury blended in. It's never overly flashy; just powerful, distinct riffage and clever accentuations designed to move the song forward. It's a great combination. Then, Roberts' drum work slams home, taking the air out of you as it thunders through.

Each song is distinct, and memorable, often taking on a chameleon-like existence; morphing and adapting multiple times as it travels towards it's ultimate destination. Things open with a thunderous “House of War”, dancing around different tempos as the dual vocal roars. There's an underlying exploratory vibe at times, only to be reigned back as if the trio don't want to reveal all their power just yet. “Zealot” keeps the momentum driving forth purposely with Roberts' drumming steering the musical vessel with determination. There's no time for side trips here, just a driving crush of aggression and might that sets the stage for the beautiful precision assault of “Voidgazer”. Lastly, the album takes it's time bidding goodbye, with the hypnotic, multi-faceted, 9 minute epic, “Remains”.

There's something to be said for a band that can manage to inspire both head banging, psychedelics and the magic of a mosh pit so easily. PALE MARE is one of those bands. Think, HIGH ON FIRE with an equal part of ELEPHANT TREE blended in. A “you know, we could really fuck you up if we wanted to” attitude, with a guru's wisdom sharing the secrets of the universe getting equal play. Add in some incredibly stunning artwork from Arthur Mills to accompany the tunes, and well there you have it. One of my favorite releases of 2020 so far. Get a copy while you can. Pre-orders available on the band's Bandcamp page.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. House of War
2. Zealot
3. Voidgazer
4. Remains
Eytan Gordon – Guitar, Vocals
Kevin Richards – Drums, Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 05 December 2022

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