Saturday 19 October 2013

The Earls Of Mars - S/T Album Revew 

The Earls Of Mars is a Progressive Metal Band from the UK

The members are:

Harry Armstrong – Voices and Pianos
Dan Hardingham – Guitars and Other Lesser Known Instruments
Si McCarthy – Upright Basses and Akkordions
Dave Newman – Drums and Percussion

Just throwing it out there, but the Earls of Mars have some fantastic hair. And moustaches that match their truly bizarre Steampunk metal sound. Following on from their 3-track EP ‘The Skies Are Falling’ (released in October last year), the Earls’ self-titles debut full length album is a delightfully odd, macabre and ultimately unique experience. Let’s delve into the fog-filled depths.

We open with the rocking and rolling ‘Poor Whore’s Petition’, a track so full of bounce it threatens to make my speakers jump off the table. The guitar fairly jumps out at you like a tiger from the undergrowth, and Harry Armstrong’s crazy preacher vocals is a perfect counterpoint to the music. If H.G. Wells had ever wanted to make a rock band, you’d better believe he’d be in this one.

This rollicking tune is followed up by ‘The Swinger’, a jazzy little metal number with plenty of organ music and swagger. The overall feel of this song reminds me of odd-metallers Hot Head Show’s strange diatribes, but with much brasher breakdowns. Then we have ‘The Astronomer Pig’, a six-minute long exploration of oddness and pig noises. Harry’s voice channels Tom Waits and Jack Black here, mixing the two in some diabolical alchemy and spouting forth this growling, howling monster. When the heaviness kicks in and the drums of Dave Newman pummel forth, ‘The Astronomer Pig’ turns into a remarkable metal oddity.

Cornelius Itchybah’ is a weird fellow: from his piano-tapping beginning to his tolling metal finale, he is a track of sadness and anger. When his quiet melancholy breaks into distorted guitar rage, you’d better find yourself a chair and whip and fend off his wild attacks quickly. If you don’t, I dread to think what’ll happen to you… as the madness takes over ‘Cornelius Itchybah’, the pianos become discordant, the bass slaps its way into the fray and the guitar wails the agony of Cornelius.

If ‘Cornelius Itchybah’ was a depressed poet, the next track ‘Otto the Magnificent’ is a faded film-noir detective with a drink problem and more one-liners than an Arnold Schwarzenegger film marathon. Si McCarthy’s world-weary bass takes you for a smoke-filled tour of dark alleys and seedy bars, before leaving you alone and looking out at a moonless sky.

The rock comes back with a vengeance with ‘The Ballad of Ben Ayre’: it’s a slamming, spiky slab of operatic metal, with a backbone of England’s finest Victorian spirit. It’s a short but sweet tune, leaving nothing to waste and everything to flaunt. Then the longest song on the album comes in with a puff of cigarette smoke and cheap liquor. ‘The Last Glass Eye-Maker’ is a bitter and twisted soul, skulking in a corner and judging the world through his beady eyes. He points his finger at the tracks that have been before him, judging them unworthy of his majestic company; his pianos and drums beats contempt at all and sundry. As the song progresses, the Glass Eye-Maker flips over his table with a scream of guitars, then leaves in a fit of guitar solos and bass stomps. I wonder what all that was about?

Some Place’ is a European-sounding mystery tune, with lashing of accordions and a dash of German soundbites and other odd effects. The song leaves you in a state of disarray, its persistent switching of sounds and snippets of dialogue serving to totally disorientate you. Then you are greeted with ‘The Mirrored Staircase’, our final foray into the world of the Earls. And it’s a belter: dark, creepy yet still inspiring and musically magnificent, the journey up this Staircase is one you must surely take.

The Earls of Mars are a truly odd bunch: part jazz, part Steampunk, part metal; they really are a marvel to behold. They are fine purveyors of odd metal masterpieces, and I suggest you don your best top hat and monocle and get listening right away. Jolly good show!

Written by Chris "I am not a martian" Markwell 

Thanks to Darren at Candlelight Records for sending us this crazy excellent album to review. The Earls Of Mars S/T album will be out to buy from October 28th 2013 from all good stockists via Candlelight Records. 

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