Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mammoth Salmon - Internet EP #2 (2013)

The use of the word "raw" throughout the modern metal scene has created an interesting dynamic. For some, it stands as a testament to the music world without fancy studios and labels spending thousands on the production of one track. For others, it becomes a negative aspect, as if being "raw" equates to being bad or lazy. Which side of the debate you fall on is completely dependent on perception. So as albums and EPs, like the latest from Portland based two piece Mammoth Salmon, find their way through the series of tubes and cats known as the internet, how they are received is as varied as how they are made. With three tracks of humming, buzzing, and feedback laden heavy rock, the dynamic duo of Paul Dudziak and Mitch Meidinger aren't about to inspire any tea parties or finger sandwiches; but their ability to play detailed songs with little to no refinement gives rise to the raw in all of us.

There may be an inherent sloppiness to the way "Nothing Follows" begins, but rest assured plenty follows. When all of the elements come together in unison, you get a bend that is perfectly imperfect. Multi-instrumentalist Dudziak wastes little time flexing his musical muscles, unleashing a wildly impressive guitar solo to offset the stripped down chord progressions. The vocals are a throwaway, though, adding little that the bending strings and rattling cymbals can't do on their own. "Green Lung" provides more in the way of static vocal lines, but does reinforce the musicianship constant. Despite the unpolished production work, Dudziak and drummer Meidinger hold their own in the mix. The trading off of slow chugging and uptempo beats is an interesting one, one that seems to work far better than you would think, given the groundwork. But it is the closing track, the seven minute "Magnetic Fields of Radiant Light" that becomes an exercise in lateral movement. After a minute and a half of clangy, metallic strings being strummed, a pure psychedelic doom song emerges, stronger than ever. Once again, the winding riffs laid down by Dudziak become somewhat mind altering, even in an untamed sea of distortion. They manage to be catchy without throwing off the balance of the track, one that could have been trimmed to a mere five minutes, if the two minutes of feedback that closes had been removed.

There are bound to be bands who use the "raw" mentality to hide the fact that they just aren't very good. Such is not the case with Mammoth Salmon, as Dudziak and Meindinger show time and again that they are more than capable of writing and performing with skill and vision. But because of the production values, however you would characterize them, there will be some, or many, who would simply dismiss their work in the first minute as being amateur. To the contrary, I would estimate that their talent far outweighs the means they used to get it to your ears. With a more focused approach to the recording and mixing process, you might see the next wave of psychedelic stoner doom come through the streets of Portland. And when the Pro-Raw and Anti-Raw protestors fill either side of the street, you might be forced to choose a side. If this "Internet EP #2" is the only piece of information you had to go on, which side would you join?


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