Noisy, indie, alternative, sludgy, doomy and abrasive; these are the words that will cross many a mind during time spent with MARES OF THRACE's "The Moulting". Interestingly enough (or not), the band's self-description on its MySpace page might be the most accurate one yet: "Two-woman technoisesludgedoomcore". Trust me, it's an accurate description of the creative racket heard on "The Moulting".
The album will leave you intrigued, perhaps even amazed, at the involved songwriting and the diversity of styles that guitarist/vocalist Therese Lanz (also credited with electronics) and drummer Stefani MacKichan have not only created, but transformed into a sometimes puzzling, but always attention-getting, cohesive whole. Reach into a figurative bag filled with '90s post-punk and AmRep-ish sounds, and face-melting sludge from this decade or the last, and pull out names like GODFLESH, NEUROSIS and THE JESUS LIZARD, but you'll drive yourself mad at making any singular round influence fit precisely enough into the collection of square holes that is "The Moulting". What can be said without hesitation is that there are some great riffs here and the seemingly minimalist approach fills a good deal more space than one might think, especially when the duo's primal guitar/drum approach somehow meshes and clashes at once with the pair's lighter side. That includes the siren harmony on the otherwise gnarly "Mandible" and the 180-degree turns on the melodic-yet-edgy "General Sherman" or the somber beauty of "The Arch". The balance of the album features the heavy, as in club-wielding Neanderthal heavy.
"Raw" and "dynamic" get wrung out of that wet towel as well; here again, the ladies making two typically opposing forces work in tandem. It is something akin to a tense relationship that benefits from the energy generated; positive or negative and sometimes both. One thing "The Moulting" is not is easy. Sometimes it's downright volatile. Even the lighter moments come with uneasiness, as though dreaminess may give way at any moment to a nightmarish experience. This is one album where you really need to hear at least a sampling of material before you can make an informed buying decision, since all this descriptive blather is doing is giving me a headache. And yet I'll still end up listening to "The Moulting" again before the day is over. Keep a close on these caustic Canadians. There up to something; you can bet on it.