Thursday, February 19, 2004

Review: Mingus - demo (2003)


Whether named for famed jazz musician Charles Mingus or, as the band asserts, just a meaningless moniker, Detroit-based Mingus  has unquestionably made an impact on the heavy music scene of the Great Lakes region. Formed in early 2001 by Benny Donovan (rhythm guitar), Bill Wills (lead guitar), Michael Kunik (drums), and Tony Cammarata (bass), Mingus has etched their place on the local live circuit through a knack for showmanship and stage presence. A year after their initial formation, the lead singer quit the band and was eventually replaced by Chris Grissom, rounding out the line-up as it stands today.

The three-song demo released by Mingus shows clear influences from bottom-tuned modern metal noteworthys such as Tool, Clutch, and Pantera. These influences are good reference points for starters, as Mingus builds upon this foundation with frequent forays to the progressive side of things through the use of time changes and complex riffs. The first song on the disc, "Save Yourself", illustrates Mingus' approach to metal with a crushingly heavy riff broken up on occasion by astral guitar interludes, all of which come together under the angered shouts of Grissom. Like Pantera's "Walk", this song has the power to drive you into the pit and is the strongest of the demo. Just as heavy, but with much more complex beats from Michael, "I Believe" mixes a strong solo from Bill and slightly different vocalizations from Chris. On this song, Chris at times goes for a less harsh and more melodic approach which leaves him sounding a bit strained - particularly when reaching for the higher notes. "Visuals" sees Chris continuing with the softer vocal style, though he does pop in a few ball-scraping growls. The slowest song of the demo, "Visuals" still packs a decent punch and involves some fine guitar leads and a ton of bass groove.

The production is a bit cloudy, especially where the vocals are concerned. but the message of the music is loud and clear. These guys have a talent for mixing up the heaviness of modern metal with fine touches of prog elements, and will only get better and more refined as time goes on. Should Chris continue on with his use of melodic vocals, I expect he'll get a better feel for his range and enhance the overall sound of Mingus.

Track Listing
1 Save Yourself
2 I Believe
3 Visuals

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