Saturday, August 13, 2016

Album Review: Mos Generator - "Abyssinia"

Riffs.  Riffs riffs.  Riffsriffsriffs.  That’s what Mos Generator, based out of the scenic state of Washington, brings to the table.  And not just any riffs, but blues-soaked, throwback classic rock riffs, piled on top of each other one after the other, like an all you can eat buffet of big, major key guitar lines.  That’s really the meal being served by Mos Generator, without release or relent, for their new album “Abyssinia”.

Not entirely different from their genre cohorts like Monster Truck or Mountains of Wizard, Mos Generator is seeking to reclaim those halcyon days when rock and metal were closer in alignment, the days when Deep Purple was one of the heaviest bands alive, crafting deep riffs out of the galactic ether and pressing them to vinyl.  The result as far as “Abyssinia” is concerned is a product that sings loudly of a different era of rock music, when the prototypes were still new.

Amidst all that though, there is some other color.  The album’s opening tune, “Strangest Times,” feels a lot like a late-era Foo Fighters song, with solid percussion backing up the basic melody, and a liberal employment of the loud-as-we-want-all-systems-go Dave Grohl philosophy.  That’s not a cheap comparison; there’s merit in taking that approach, as too many artists feel they have to contain themselves within an image or a style rather than simply lay what feels good.

There are also some welcome changes in pace (more on this below,) where Mos Generator tries out a few different cadences in an attempt to round out their sound.  “As Above So Below” sounds very different from what we discussed above, taking on a more muted but harmonious tone, where by contrast “Time & Other Thieves” ups and tempo and pairs it with dual vocals and some offbeat percussion to give a different look.  There’s a veneer on the latter song that plays out almost like one of those synth-driven prog classics of the late seventies and early eighties, though without the synth.  That’s probably a weak description, and it starts to fall apart as the band winds into an old school Deep Purple breakdown with a cushy solo, but it’s the closest available analogy.

The one failing of Mos Generator is that there’s not a ton of depth to the experience.  The riffs are warm and organic and infectious, but the riffs are all there really is.  The songs are enjoyable as single entities, but once you’ve heard one or two, you pretty much have a solid idea of the entire story of the record.  The change in pacing from above doesn’t similarly engender a change in overall feel or timbre.  It’s mostly the same sound at new speeds.  That doesn’t mean that the songs lose their value, that’s not what we’re saying.  But the total experience of “Abyssinia” pretty much thins down to one or two ideas.  So, there’s great potential for progress here, but for right now, it’s not as fulfilling as it could be.

So more good than bad for “Abyssinia,” there’s no doubt of that, but the one bad is worth considering before a purchase.  In the meantime, Mos Generator is a talented band with a great instinct for writing songs people would want to hear both in music and in spirit.  Most definitely worth a rental before you buy.

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