Mars a three piece stoner doom band from New Orleans, Louisiana are, on the evidence of their second album "Precession of the Equinoxes", going to find it hard not to be compared to those iconic stoner riffmeisters Sleep. The two bands both utilise slowed down, heavily fuzzed and downtuned Sabbath-esque riffage driven by big growling bass lines and pounding heavy percussion and both are trio's. Where Mars differ from their Californian counter parts is in the diversity of their attack adding touches of psychedelic colouring and gentle ambient textures in and around their mammoth low/slow grooves. First and title track "Precession of the Equinoxes" is a prime example of this, the songs slow plodding doom riff is overlaid with Gregorian like chanted vocals creating a dirge like groove that leans towards the funereal but is saved by the band adding elements of light and shade into the equation via gentle guitar arpeggios and shimmering percussion. As the song approaches its last quarter the band shrug off their cloaks of doom and explode into a blistering heavy metal groove replete with scorching blues infused guitar solo's shredded over a tumultuous rhythmic backdrop before finishing on a wave of Celtic tinted blackened doom coated in harsh throaty vocals.
"Shadowbuilder" lurches out of the speakers leviathan like, its achingly slow groove drenched in distortion and fuzz crawls along for a few bars then suddenly erupts into a heavy sludge groove with wide eyed maniacal vocals screamed over it. Apart from a brief respite of quiet moody ambiance the songs dynamic of majestic slow doom and grinding heavy sludge carries it through until its high droning close
"Empress" begins with bassist Mark Woods laying down a grizzly bass motif that is joined after a few bars by Matt Mars' drums the two laying down a slow and atmospheric rhythmic groove that is then shattered to pieces with the arrival of Andy Soda's crunching heavy guitar and throat tearing vocals taking the songs groove into more blackened territory before collapsing down into a stoner doom groove for the finale.
"The Mountain" sees a brief return to those Gregorian-like vocals, albeit mixed with those of a harsher nature, chanted and roared over and around a tumultuous backdrop of grinding bass and thundering drums overlaid with heavily distorted guitar. The second half of the song sees the band exploring more Sabbathian grooves than previously heard but mixing them with elements of psych and space, something Desert Psychlist hopes the band expand on in the future.
"Alpha Draconis" closes proceedings and is at 4:30 the shortest track on the album. More a brooding backdrop for a heavy smoking session than an actual song it consists of an array of effects swirling and swooping over a slow and deliberate drum and bass groove, nice but not essential Desert Psychlist would much rather of seen the album go out on a blistering heavy high than a soundtrack for one... but that's just our opinion.
Sabbathian but not Black Sabbath, Weedian but not Sleep Mars are their own band with their own sound, a sound that although nods its head towards the grooves created by those iconic legends does not seek to replicate them.
Check 'em out ......