Review Summary: Part two of the classic Bath. This time with a harsher sound but with plenty of surreal moments to immerse yourself into.
Maudlin of the Well seem to be a new obsession with me. I was introduced to the band a few months ago by this site’s own pixiesfanyo and ever since then I’ve drowned myself in the beautiful and aggressive sounds of Toby Driver. This is Toby’s first proper band and has went onto the climbing avant-garde band Kayo Dot. Leaving Your Body Map is part two of the story (with the almighty Bath being part one) and continues on where Bath left off. The two albums have a similar sound, both showing a brutal metal side and a beautiful, calming side. While having a similar sound, they both manage to be completely different from each other. Bath is a lot more calm and shows a more magnificent measure while Leaving Your Body Map is harsh but has a surreal quality to it.
The use of instruments here is incredible. While having a typical vocals, guitar, bass and drums outlet, they manage to throw in clarinet, flute, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone as well. These instruments are mainly used in the clean parts and definitely add a lot to the sound. The band’s main member is Toby Driver, who plays guitar and sings most of the vocals. His voice is absolutely breath-taking and has been compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley (though I find that the comparison doesn’t fully come into play until Kayo Dot). The guitar work is completely solid, spanning from heavy metal guitar sounds to gorgeous acoustic. The guitars never sound cliché, the metal riffs are completely original and don’t try and sound like any other band while the acoustic licks are so stunning that it’s hard not to be pulled in by them. The drums are never the main concern here but again, they are original and they don’t fall into generic metal drumming territory which I find is refreshing. The use of the ‘other’ instruments add so much emotion into the songs while usually on a background of acoustics and clean guitars.
The album starts off slow with “Stones of October’s Sobbing” with a chorus-dipped guitar and woodwind intro but soon turns into the album’s first heavy moment. Saying that, it isn’t entirely heavy and is still beautiful in it’s own right. It’s just the chunky electric guitar and Toby’s growling which brings out the heaviness. The song is one of the heaviest on the album and has a dark nature surrounding it. “Gleam In Ranks” was the first song to get me hooked on the album due to it’s catchiness (not catchy in the pop sense but catchy as in it’s instantly grabbing). The bass line is solid and adds a lot to the song without noticing. It eventually develops into fast action and suddenly sounds eccentric. The ‘ballad’ “Sleep is a Curse” is a bit in the vein of Bath’s Geography as they don’t turn heavy but have an ultimate climax. Toby’s voice is the highlight of the song as well as the double acoustics playing. “Monstrously Low Tide” closes this album in brilliant style. Suddenly exploding with a heavy part but soon departs to charming acoustics. Also to note is the vocals by Maria which are soothing. The song slowly fades away as clean guitars continuing playing.
This album in particular is hard to describe as it’s hard to compare it. A lot of people consider the likes of Opeth and Agalloch to be in the same vein of the band but that is false. The only real similarity here is the band’s use of heavy/clean sections which is obvious. The difference here is that maudlin of the Well’s sound usually sounds natural and flowing and they know when to use the changes. Other bands like maudlin of the Well don’t know how to use heavy and clean parts accordingly so that the songs flow and instead come out sounding copy and pasted. While I’m not dissing on those bands (I am a fan of both), it’s easy to see why I feel this way. What we have here is like a long fairytale, it feels like it’s telling a story without going into specific details. I really should note the use of astral projection and lucid dreams, they tried to find the music rather than compose it.
This is an album you need to spend time with and get to know first before you can properly get enjoyment out of it. This is diverse and different than most other things out there today and takes a while to get the hang of (though Kayo Dot is harder to get into). Immerse yourself in the sounds and just let the album take you away. The only reason this isn’t getting a five is that I enjoy Bath a lot more and it has more sentimental value to me. On top of that is that some moments of the album can sound forced after listening to Bath but as an album on it’s own, it’s true art.