Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Naisian - Mammalian

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In Sheffield, UK toils a band that goes by the name of Naisian. The four members of this palindrome-monikered outfit have cobbled together an interesting debut full-length album, which they've titled Mammalian, that blends a number of stylistic elements together in what ends up being a very tasty post-metal stew. I personally don't like the various "post-" labels that get tossed around these days, but the sound Naisian achieves on Mammalian definitely refuses to be easily categorized. The blend of atmospheric doom, prog, and moody rock presented here calls to mind the work of bands like Thrice, The Sword, and Amorphis. If those outfits pique your interest, then you'll find Naisian to be a worthy newcomer to the style.

Perhaps referring to Naisian as a newcomer isn't altogether fair. The band (Adam Zejma - vocals/guitar/keys, James Borrowdale - guitar, Michael Aitken - bass, and Jordan Garlick - drums) has been together since 2003 and since that time has released a couple of warmly-received EPs. With Mammalian, however, Naisian takes the next DIY step in what is likely to be quite a successful run. My optimism for the band is rooted in their ability to craft complex songs that, while allowing each member to explore the edges of creativity, remain cohesive and linear. Much use is made of unhurried guitar melodies that are as haunting as they are soothing, with Zejma and Borrowdale strolling through a number of creative riffs and catchy harmonics, but Mammalian does pack a punch at times. Evidence of this heightened aggression can be heard as "Fletcher-Munson" thunders along with a doomy foundation punctuated by Zejma's hoarse, deathish vocals. Used sparsely, the vocals are really the most metallic ingredient of everything that comprises Naisian's sound. Usually harsh and raspy, at times the vocals are hauntingly layered for an ethereal compliment to the various other harmonies at work. The title track, which delves into a jazzy sort of ambiance similar to Am Universum Amorphis, features some clean singing that I think may be an element the band might want to focus on in the future.

The song that stands above the rest is the epically titled "Take Me To The Mountain Dew Mountain", and not just because I'm addicted to the beverage of the same name. The supple riffs here are engaging, even captivating, offering subtle nuances that are revealed only after repeated listens. Aitken's four-string skills are showcased quite extensively on this track, offering up a semi-retro groove that floats deep within the mix but remains clearly in focus.

Mammalian is an exciting album that fans of atmospheric metal and rock should definitely investigate. The introspective riffs, intricate drum fills, and overall mood put together by Naisian makes this one of the best indie release I've heard so far this year.

Track Listing
3Take Me To The Mountain Dew Mountain7:29
5I Am Eustache Dauger11:18
Total Runtime39:10

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