Thursday 12 November 2020

SAUTRUS ~ M.A.P. ...... review

If there was ever a band that deserved more love than Poland's SautruS then Desert Psychlist is yet to meet them, the four piece combo have consistently released albums that push the boundaries of conventional rock to its edges but have not yet quite made that leap into that upper echelon of bands whose albums are met with rabid anticipation long before they are actually released. However, this state of affairs could all change with the release of the bands latest opus "M.A.P.", an eclectic mix of downtuned psych, complex prog, doom and stoner metal all wrapped up in a conceptual tale of a war between a Pope and a Holy Roman Emperor.

"M.A.P." opens its account with "Exkomvna" a short but strident song that sets the scene for the albums concept by depicting, in its music and lyrics, the excommunication of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Gregory IX for his refusal to carry out the church's wishes for a sixth crusade into the Holy Lands. "Baquar" then follows and finds SautruS hitting a groove that is part prog rock, part hard rock and boasts an impressive vocal that soars, much like the falcons in the songs lyrics, over and around the complex and intricate grooves that growl and crunch beneath it. "Rose" raises its head next, a song that alternates between serene balladry and crunching heavy doomic bluster. That bluster gets the upper-hand on next track "Borderlove" and finds SautruS hitting a chugging stoner groove over which they pour cryptic lyrics telling of love but with the subject of that love left to the listeners imagination. Acoustic guitars announce the arrival of "Falling" a song sang in monastic tones over a laid back and languid musical backdrop that, within the context of the albums concept, could be construed as telling a tale of a fall from grace but Desert Psychlist may be way wide of the mark with that theory. "Lady In Green" enters next its circular fuzz drenched guitar motifs underscored by some impressive understated drumming are then joined by a superbly pitched vocal that tells of a mystical savior in a green dress, as the song progresses so does the intensity of its performance the band ramping up the songs dynamics bar by bar until finally we find ourselves entrenched in a heavy doomic groove decorated with vocals of similarly darker tone. If there was ever a more schizophrenic song than "Present Times" then Desert Psychlist would like to hear it for here the listener is faced with a song that shifts and changes at such a rate that there are times you are unsure if you are still listening to the same song you just dropped the needle on. Next up is "Twitchy Witchy Girl" a quirky blend of stuttering alternative rock and brutal stoner metal that in its quieter quirkier moments boasts a vocal not unlike that employed by Robert Plant on Led Zep's "Houses of the Holy". "Deceiver" comes out of the traps strutting a crunching stoner metal groove around which wailing wordless vocals soar and swoop but then suddenly morphs into thundering heavy prog workout  decorated in clean vocal harmonies before then shifting once again and taking off into heavy psych territory."1239" closes "M.A.P." with acoustic guitars strummed and picked beneath soaring monastic harmonies while a part sang, part spoken narrative (in Polish) is recited.

"M.A.P," is not an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination but it is a worthwhile one, it is also a brave and unusual album, brave in that it has a concept based on a religious historical event,  religion being one of the great taboo's of this or any other century, and unusual because it is almost impossible to pin a label on the music SautruS present us with here.
Check it out ....

   © 2020 Frazer Jones

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