MARES OF THRACE play the 460 on May 11. See listing. Rating: NNNN
The sophomore album by Calgary noise-doom two-piece Mares of Thrace has been gathering considerable buzz. And for good reason. Yes, there's a wow factor inherent in the mere idea of an all-female metal duo, but far more notable is the dynamic, powerful music this one makes.
Frontwoman Thérèse Lanz employs a custom-made baritone guitar outfitted with both bass and guitar pickups to churn out roiling, menacing sludge riffs. Over top she adds demonic vocals that hiss and seethe, spit and scrape, while drummer Stef MacKichan shifts between furious pummelling and jazz-informed, time-shifting syncopation.
Despite the limited instrumentation, arrangements are thoughtful, and the 10 songs build slowly and hypnotically through repetition. Just when a sameness begins to set in, a handful of tunes near the end - melancholic instrumental The Three-Legged Courtesan, loud/soft epic The Goat Thief, nuanced but super-heavy ...And The Bird Surgeon - tip us off to the fact that we've glimpsed just a fraction of Mares of Thrace's capabilities.
Top track: The Goat Thief