One of the stranger discoveries of recent years is that Doom Metal works really well in Welsh. And, of course, if it’s recorded in Wrexham (because, fuck Swansea!) Such is the ongoing revelation that is Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, now on its third album, Yn Ol I Annwyn (New Heavy Sounds).
In many ways, of course, MWWB is the anti-Doom band. Leaving aside the language (though lead chanteuse and bassist Jessica Ball also sings in English, as any fan of the band will tell you), the band’s name is itself a piss-take of every worn out Doom cliché you can think of, and there are a lot of them. In order to create something new, you have to demolish the old.
But as Yn Ol I Annwyn shows, you need to do more than just that. The band’s cosmic, ethereal sound is now boosted with eerie electronic flourishes. Yes, there are Theremins and ring modulators aplenty here, and yes, it works remarkably well. This all blends well with MWWB’s other staples, like gloriously crunchy, chugging riffs and devastatingly evocative strings.
Old hands will know the formula, of course. But the band’s achievement is to build upon this, to try new things and to make good upon them. It makes the case, which only the most bonged-out, reactionary weird-beard with St. Vitus’ logo tattooed on their arses could argue against, that Doom Metal is as much a feeling and an aesthetic as it is a ‘stock’ sound and sub-genre.
It helps that the album does indeed rock the fuck out. Every song stands out in its own right, but more importantly, it focuses on those all-important hooks and amazing stand-out moments that awe and beguile in equal measure. ‘Katuyusha’ sounds like the Blake’s 7 soundtrack as performed by angry techno savages with tools hewn from lead. Not bad for a thirteen-minute instrumental.
Elsewhere, ‘The Spaceships Of Ezekiel’ takes you to Jupiter, crushes you with the gravity, and then withers you in the molten heat of Io with its amazing groove and bounding tempo. ‘The Majestic Clockwork’ flits between pounding you flat with chords and string sections in equal measure. And the title track somehow manages to conflate Celtic Frost‘s ‘Circle Of The Tyrants’, Deftones‘ ‘Elite’ and any number of grunge bands, and still sound like its own beast.
It is overall, then, a blinder. The only question is where the band goes from here. The third instalment of a trilogy, Yn Ol I Annwyn leaves MWWB at the end of a journey, and, perhaps, completed in a way that means any further albums would just be footnotes. Perhaps I’m wrong, but if the band were to fade into those eldritch mists they invoke, it would surely with their heads held high for this album alone.
8 / 10