Friday 27 October 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Cities of Mars - "Temporal Rifts"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 29/09/2017
Label: Argonauta Records

Cities of Mars' unique songwriting and evolving musicianship have much to offer to the doom scene


"Temporal Rifts" CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Doors of Dark Matter Pt 1: Barriers
2. Envoy of Murder
3. Gula, a Bitter Embrace
4. Children Of The Red Sea
5. Caverns Alive!

The Review:

Sweden's Cities of Mars may not initially jump out as you as you first listen. As a doom trio mixing in heavy psychedelic overtones and even classic metal melodies in the spirit of Black Sabbath or Uriah Heap, you might just lose them in the traffic of artists traveling similar roads. However, all credit to the band and its label, ever a connoisseur of original musicians, with this self-awareness, and for shaping a concept from start to finish.

Dubbing itself "a heavy band with an integrated storyline," Cities of Mars makes its proper debut this year with "Temporal Rifts," coming after its 2016 EP, "Celestial Mistress," and two tracks in 2015. However, its collection is all based on the same concept, a broad and ancient conspiracy that is unearthed by Russian KGB cosmonaut Nadia, who lands on the planet Mars as part of a covert mission in 1971. With an assist from Monolord's Esben Willems on production, Cities of Mars offer promise at an invigorating premiere.

Cities of Mars has gotten comparisons to the band Sleep at points for good reason. Their distorted, stoner-esque orchestration and other flourishes may spark visions of that San Jose trio. Still, Cities of Mars presents a few areas of its own to be excited about.

First and foremost, it is storytelling. You'll have some quick catching up to do if you are not familiar with the tale, because Cities of Mars pitches you right in. Vocalists  Christoffer Norén and Danne Palm together do a respectable job at conveying affairs, which, as you can guess, get fantastical and spaced out. "Envoy of Murder" is a good instance of this. Johan Küchler's drums lead the way as the story comes down to lyrics that feel mirthless in emotion. But in "Gula, a Bitter Embrace," there is a growing determination, as the trio strike a thicker and faster doom rhythm. The arrangement on "Gula" is solid, but feels like it could benefit by being just a bit more compact. However, the eight-minute "Children Of The Red Sea" following it manages a sublime trance into something that feels like truly memorable doom. Gentler chords grow insistent, as the bass swells and vocals float in an otherworldly way against the guitar strings caging it. The composition here harkens somewhat to Below the Sun's spectacular summer release, but Cities of Mars feels bold in its own way.

The album closes with the psychedelic "Caverns Alive!" It follows the same footprint of some other cuts – lighter open, churning build – and yet the band keeps it sounding fresh. Such, however, might be the biggest question for Cities of Mars. Where does a band whose name and music come from a single concept go after this? Space is, of course, infinite. And as you will come to appreciate, Cities of Mars' unique songwriting and evolving musicianship have much to offer to the doom scene. Without giving away the story, fans will have to simply await to which planet this innately discrepant act flies the next light year.

"Temporal Rifts" is available here:

Band info: bandcamp || facebook