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Chronicle I: The Truthseeker


Artist: Mountain Caller
Label: New Heavy Sounds
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 06 November 2020

New Heavy Sounds releases Chronicle 1: The Truthseeker, the debut album by Heavy Progressive Instrumental three-piece Mountain Caller. This home grown band hails from London and consists of Claire Simson on guitar, El Reeve on bass, and Max Maxwell on drums. The trio have honed their abilities and chosen their direction over three years of live gigs and festivals. There are six tracks covering 42 minutes of music, wherein they tell stories which strive to conjure up cinematic scenes. The protagonist at the edge of the Twilight Desert sets forth on a journey to discover ‘his’ memory and ‘her’ voice. The idea is that each instrument at times takes centre stage amidst a panoramic concept of reflective soundscapes. The album was recorded in Manchester by producer Joe Clayton of Pijn, and mastered by Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna (who I reviewed in 2019). Chronicle 1: The Truthseeker is available on red/purple galaxy disc Vinyl with gatefold sleeve, CD, and for Download...

It worries me when so many other bands are invoked to reference a new arrival – in this case, Mogwai, Sleep, and Deftones. It makes me suspect the music is unable to stand on its own feet and speak for itself. So, how does this one stand up to those references? 'Journey Through the Twilight Desert' features an atmospheric opening with a surprisingly annoying trebly guitar piece against a drum pattern which varies the beat. When the full band sound enters the fray things improve considerably. It constantly changes. A repeating bass is less grating than the ringing guitar when it returns. A nice, heavy and mega-fast section doesn’t last nearly long enough, before a moderate beat takes over. There are some inventive sounds here, but you don’t get to enjoy the good parts, because there is no sustaining structure. 'Feast at Half-Light City' is a reminder of the annoying, inane ringing guitar. The heavier moments of this music undoubtedly work much better than the quieter moments, which seem to lose their way. There is considerably more melody to the full band sound, too. The bass and effects-driven guitar work really well. This is an improvement on track one, as there are less changes and a more grandiose, thicker combo sound. I still have reservations, however.

For 'I Remember Everything' the heavier, thicker construct is maintained, with the little moments being handled more ably by the bass. Whilst still having no real direction, this is probably the best offering thus far. There is a ticking sense of time wherein melancholia is squeezed uneasily into the middle section. You just have to welcome the return of the paced heavy sound which sees this track out. The title 'Trial By Combat' seems to suggest this one will have some pace, but it begins very much like the song 'Black Sabbath' by the band of the same name – heavy and moderate, before becoming more retrospective with that awful ringing guitar again. It returns to the heavy riff, this time sounding subtly different. The guitar becomes very much like that of 'Running Wild' for a while, but it soon returns to the opening format of the song, only a little more upbeat now. 'A Clamour of Limbs' has a discordant sound on the off-beat, which flits between aggressive and restrained. It then becomes very much like the previous track: a mixture of Black Metal and Doom. This time there is the inclusion of a gritty, effects-laden guitar melody over the top. It briefly enters incidental film score territory, before shocking with an almost Gaelic-style female voice. It actually fits very well into what is essentially an album of instrumental music.

A low hum outstays its welcome, as does the wretched ringing guitar in 'Dreamspirals'. A gravelly vibe injects some life into the tune. The bass sound on this release is very impressive. The reverb-rich atmospheric moments fail to convince, so you wait for some much needed energy. I’m happy to say, it’s rewarded in the last third of this eight-minute closer with a jam which builds to a crescendo. I have very mixed feelings about this first outing by Mountain Caller. As you will have read, some parts I hated, whilst others I loved to a point. It’s an interesting concept, but the lack of direction in some places invokes the Progressive Rock side of their format – and I’m not that enamoured with Prog Rock. Perhaps they should try the vocalist out on a few future tracks? I’m intrigued to know how this would affect the balance of sound.


Ty Power

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