Wednesday 8 May 2024

MARAGDA ~ TYRANTS .... review

Spain's Maragda are a bit of an enigma, the band, Marçal Itarte (bass/vocals); Guilem Tora (guitar/backing vocals) and Xavi Pasqual (drums), jam a groove that does not quite fit into any of the usual boxes we at Desert Psychlist tend to fall back on when attempting to describe music to our readers. The bands sound is at times heavy and blustering, it is sometimes complex and convoluted and on occasions it wanders into areas that could be described as commercial and pop-like. Alternative is a term we guess fits Maragda's music the best but then "alternative" these days is associated with grunge and Maragda's music is certainly not what you could consider "grungy". The words that come most to mind while listening to the bands stunning new album "Tyrants" (Spinda Records) are uplifting, bright and fresh, words not often seen on a site like Desert Psychlist where dankness and darkness are usually king, but they are the words we are going to stand by in regard to this peach of an album.

Opening/title track "Tyrants" opens with heavy prog like flourishes then settles down into a space-like gallop over which melodic lead vocals trade off with lilting harmonies. The musicianship here is other level with Tora and Pasqual laying down a barrage of infectious groove for Itarte to decorate with an array of crunchy and swirly guitar work. Itarte introduces next track "Skirmish" with effect drenched guitar before the rest of the band come in on a stoner(ish) groove in support of the vocals which are again melodic and lilting. "Endless" follows and begins quaint, fragile and easy on the ear but then shits up a gear into a juddering, stuttering hard rock romp that routinely goes off piste into unexpected territories. Those of advanced years may hear elements of bands like The Byrds and early Yes in the vocals that decorate "My Only Link" while those of more tender years might make comparisons with some of the less blackened and more accessible elements of Chicago's Huntsmen, whether you are in the former camp or the latter there is no denying the infectiousness of this song and the feelings of joie de vivre its groove evokes. If it were not for its bubbling guitar effects and occasional dives into psychedelic mayhem then next track "Sunset Room" would make a quite acceptable pop song while "The Singing Mountain" with its off centred musical structures and moments of vocal weirdness, although sounding very good to our ears, is anything but radio friendly. "Godspeed" is a slice of  feel good rock'n'roll with a great vocal melody, stinging guitar solos and groove easy to tap a foot to that leads us nicely into final number "Loose" a song that in its initial stages boasts a slight country/Americana feel that is again not dissimilar to the aforementioned Huntsmen in their lighter moments. It has to be said that the vocals throughout this album have been exceptional but it is the instrumental middle section and closing jam that wins the day on this song, Pasqual and Tora anchoring things to the ground with industrious drumming and bouncy low bubbling bass while Itarte splits the skies asunder with fractured chord voicings and soaring solos, a truly mind blowing finale to truly exceptional album.

Maragda's "Tyrants" is a product of outstanding musicianship and a true understanding of melody, it is an album of music that lightly touches base with prog, stoner rock and metal but also owes a debt to garage rock, early psych and pop, an album that is more "uplifting" than a hot air balloon, "brighter" than a sunbeam and "fresher" than a sea breeze.
Check it out ....
© 2024 Frazer Jones

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