maudlin of the Well
Bath


4.0
excellent

Review

by Chris Maziejka USER (49 Reviews)
November 23rd, 2007 | 14 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: As if in a dream that I've had a few times before.


Metal is not an expansive genre (generally). If I were granted one dollar for every metal album I’ve heard that sounds the same as the last one, I’d be straight ballin’. Still I find myself listening to maudlin of the Well’s Bath extensively lately, and for the last time until my next epiphany within the genre (in which I’ll need this album to make comparison). The reason for such interest is because maudlin of the Well are quite above the sound and level of your average metal band – a statement solidified around the progressive and emotional output this album releases. Bath is the courier for a hypothesized new-age of prog-metal, and whether it is put to use in the evolution of the genre or not, it will remain the milestone in the career of maudlin of the Well (even though Body Map is the better album) and in the musical life of Toby Driver, a composer whose style is drenched in the influence of his own creation, even today. Instantaneously surpassing the veil of generic metal, the album begins with the sensuous piece ‘Blue Ghost/Shedding Qliphoth’. From the start one must realize that Bath is hardly in the vein of popularized metal, instead taking on a more established and professional outlook in creating such sounds. Extending arms into pools of jazz, classical, acoustic, and ambiance, all the while keeping a developed theory-based lyrical backdrop in the picture, maudlin of the Well transcend metal after three opening tracks – an accomplishment repeated throughout the album.

Thing is, it shouldn’t be a difficult task for any respectable musician to ‘transcend metal’ the way maudlin of the Well does. While Bath is most definitely an immersive and rather fresh work, the style used has already matured and motW were expanding upon it. That is the point of Bath, which is to be as theoretically inclined and musically expansive as possible, while sticking to the same drawing board as bands like ‘Yakuza’ and ‘King Crimson’. Maudlin may be more progressive in a genre combining way than those two bands (still, KC does get pretty out there), however motW share the heaviness to ambiance ratio with them.

The most beautiful aspect to see in maudlin of the Well’s music though is the execution. With whatever influence drawn from however many different acts of various genres, motW writes a work of melodious and technical seduction that plays through the several styles used like it’s nothing. Bath feels like Maudlin have been spending lifetimes mastering the secrets of every audible genre. The band also are adherents to strict standards set by themselves for playing, as no melody will be heard for less than at least three minutes, and will be no less perfectly jazzy and ambient than it would be if Coltrane and Armstrong were on woodwinds and horns (respectively). The heavier side of the music is also miles above average, backed by thunderously epic guitar work alongside bass-lines with a pulse like a bluesman on cocaine.

However heavy Bath may be at times, it is purely avant-garde at heart. Crammed with Toby Driver’s ideas, dreams and writings, the album pertains to metal as scarcely as is allowed in order to still push the boundaries of the genre, all the while making it (metal) seem chaste to pugnacity. The maturity of motW’s music is what makes the band so distinctive as a whole. When you think of maudlin of the Well, you can’t put your finger on one sound or style only. For example, the transitions in ‘They Aren’t All Beautiful’, a song compounding death-metal intentions with brief escapes into quieter, ghastly notes that carry the melody and capture the feel of the entire song, delved into for about five seconds and then amplified for another few minutes. Or amongst the progress of ‘Birth Pains of Astral Projection’, from the feathery acoustic/jazz introduction into some of the finest heavy guitar work Toby Driver has ever set to record. The progressive influence is masked by perfection and taken into a completely different world, remaining undeniable.

Driver’s musical obsession with aesthetics is what truly wrote this album. Bath is not exactly that brooding, heavy or dark like most metal (or even like other work by Driver) – in fact, the softer parts on this record successfully preside with their effect on the heavier side. Bath was composed so professionally that the conflict of genres is absent completely, and instead of sounding forced it appears that no one genre takes a backseat to another – instead they work together to extract and display the beauty residing in them. This teamwork is only possible through a musical monarchy however, as the ambiance is much more prominent than the metal. Despite this paradox, one must recall while listening to Bath that it is an album written with a second part released at a different time. These two albums (‘Bath’ and ‘Leaving Your Body Map’) coincide so that inconsistency is ultimately resolved.

With all the fantastic musicianship and evolving philosophical theory involved, maudlin of the Well’s Bath does shy away from being a classic album. The music is progressive and interesting, yet spends all of its time conveying similar themes. Lyrics in music are the human way to connect with the songwriter, and while they are all of high quality on Bath, they don’t relate to many of the listeners. Astral Projection is a practice Toby Driver is fond of, and he has every right in humanity to express that how he likes, however irrelevant it is to us. Yeah, Bath is a great example of experimental music done right, but so are a lot of other albums. As I said before, you cannot put your finger on any single style involved with this album long enough to call it consistent aside from the two biggies, metal and ambiance. I’ve heard them two together before.



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user ratings (927)
Chart.
4.4
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Monticello
November 23rd 2007


805 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Good review. I disagree but you explained yourself pretty well. I'll pos.

FR33L0RD
November 23rd 2007


1466 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Interesting band but too much boring filling part IMO

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 23rd 2007


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Disagree a bit on the lyrics holding it back from being classic; The most understandable lyrics, Geography and Heaven and Weak, are heartbreaking. I do agree that it isn't quite classic, though. Choirs of the Eye is the superior of the two Driver albums I own.

Neoteric
November 23rd 2007


3243 Comments


You underrated it!

But that's okay since this album and me are basically lovers.

BallsToTheWall
November 23rd 2007


44805 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've been meaning to check this out. However, seems like a bit of a journeyhas to be taken to find this.

Digging: Pink Turns Blue - If Two Worlds Kiss

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 23rd 2007


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, you'd best get on that.This Message Edited On 11.23.07

Neoteric
November 23rd 2007


3243 Comments


You can get it on DFelon's blog.

Doppelganger
November 23rd 2007


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Bath > francesfarmer. Good review, though.

francesfarmer
November 23rd 2007


1477 Comments


Manipulator > Doppelganger

Ghearufu
March 21st 2008


87 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, I agree with Electric City, I think the lyrics are easy enough to relate to. Sure maybe not all the time, but who does have lyrics that relate 100%? Agreed not quite a classic but I think its higher then a 4.

Neoteric
March 21st 2008


3243 Comments


The lyrics are probably harder to understand than they read. It's easy to make personal interpetations of them, but as a matter of fact they mean something completely different.

Ghearufu
March 22nd 2008


87 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

But isn't the point of music to be able to interpret them and being able to relate due to your interpretation? Point in case is Pink Floyd DSOTM, Gilmour has been quoted to saying when asked what the album is about as "It's about life, isn't it?"

IAmInsect
March 22nd 2008


3799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't rly pay attention to motW's lyrics tbh I just put headphones on and enjoy.

Eliminator
March 22nd 2008


2067 Comments


Dude I TOTALLY disagree you rated it a 4 and I rated it a 4.5 I think my point is that neg.

Most of maudlin's lyrics are pretty awkward and cheesy, just like the music.



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