Review Summary: Get it while it's hot!
The quarantine blues have transformed the neighborhood grocery store into a Mad Max film: Empty shelves, as barren as the deserts of the wasteland, are abound in this apocalyptic landscape, with desperate scavengers rushing past in hazard gear to avoid the proverbial fallout. Fights erupt near the ‘personal health’ section. Enforcement officials are stretched thin or involved in the melee themselves—everyone needs toilet paper, after all. One can imagine The Motion Mosaic entering this hysterical scene with equal parts panic and determination. Like all stereotypical families of suburbia, the intrepid Minnesota quintet know what they want to put on the table, but the influx of doomsday believers has caused an infectious sense of worry. Thus, the band scurries from aisle to aisle, dodging egg shells as trench warfare breaks out over low French fries’ stock. Items are hurriedly thrown into the shopping cart that is Avant-Garbage
and sent tumbling down the nearest cashier’s counter. In such a haste, the collective gathered a vast array of supplies that seem too numerous to be compatible, and the result would surely be as disastrous as pineapple on pizza. Despite the Covid-fueled analogies and the self-aware description offered by its title, this sophomore effort is far from scattered; elements such as the heaviness and intricacies of Betrayer
-era Harlots find themselves melded with the melodic tendencies of the Greyhavens of the world and the progressive elements of Name. When put through the blender-esque metalcore riffs populating the album, the end result is certainly a winning combination.
All variety of influences coalesce into a product that is cohesive, concise, and possessing of its own identity; it can be traced to fellow artists per usual, but it has a distinctive flair the band can claim as their own. Rhythms are predictably subjected to change as guitars race through a flurry of technical riffs and intertwine with each other, producing mid-tempo grooves tailor-made for headbanging or frantic, syncopated outbursts that are carefully balanced in a harmonious relationship. The full spectrum of the fretboard is explored, with sharp or ominous melodies rising above the bedlam, compelling sounds to progress through the discord. Drums practice light, jazz-esque maneuvers, delicate cymbal-tapping, and furious blast beats, with the subtle drone of the bass solidifying the impact of the album’s low end. Calling through the pandemonium are resounding bellows and baritone cleans, the powerful harsh performance taking the majority of the workload inside the sea of sporadic djent riffs, melodic leads, flexible time signatures, and sparse moments of relief. Each individual track crafts a journey from the beginning to the conclusion without overstaying its welcome and progressing in a captivating manner. The punishing assault that swarms the listener immediately upon accessing “Nirvana” cycles from alternating beats to dissonant riffs, an instrumental crescendo exploding into an evocative guitar solo that underlines the desperate messages purveyed through the lyrics:
“Reach out, take hold, hold onto the present, it’s all that we know.
Memory fades and processes die and nothing remains.
All withers, decays and dies in time.”
The song fades into gentle strumming, the once cacophonous strings reduced as the vocals shout in the distance. Then, the bass enters the scene, slowing accruing momentum as the drums build in their intensity. Calm chords decay into a melancholic tremolo before the entry regroups for a final strike, collapsing into a destructive breakdown that’s sure to damage some necks.
While such instances on the disc’s first half are incredible and awesome to behold, The Motion Mosaic become a fully operational unit on the second half, their impressive musicianship and songwriting brilliance blossoming into a marvelous stretch of metalcore. “Cancer and Cure” erupts in a flurry of percussion and a haunting, dark riff ripped straight from a black metal release. Polished, melancholic melodies reign over the tune’s duration, their resonating timbres casting a sorrowful atmosphere over the relentless number. Despondent, rough clean vocals announce the entrance of “Blue Skies Over Bedlam,” the dynamic motions of the drum kit—steady at once, then an outbreak of grooves and patterns of separate time designations—reaffirming its position as the bedrock of the sonic output being produced. The latter portion of the creation launches out of a devastating breakdown and into a thick wall of sound, harmonizing guitars guiding the listener back to the anthemic refrain. Appropriately, “Muad’Dib” acts as a microcosm of all that has come before it: The tightly-controlled pandemonium of metalcore, the choice instances of quiet, and a progressive mindset. Given more than six minutes to explore its ideas to its fullest extent, this closing formation dives headfirst into the instrumental dissension, only coming up for air three minutes later when bluesy cleans and dreamy chords interrupt the proceedings. It provides another pathway for The Motion Mosaic to construct another climax punctuated by a guitar solo and a thunderous rhythm section. Prior lyrical motifs reemerge amongst this beautiful upsurge, the aggressive and heavy finale contrasted by a heartfelt, encouraging passage:
“Whether the pressure's always weighing, or you can’t find purity,
Or your mind's a ***ing trainwreck, or you've got no place to be.
Let go of all that ails you, let go and leave behind.
Embrace the present moment, take hold of the divine. Find divine.”
At the finish of an easily-digestible 45-minute span, Avant-Garbage
reveals it is everything but; though it may be a veritable grab-bag of concepts and sounds, it is more than capable of integrating such notions into a truly fascinating spectacle. Inspirations can be detected in a manner that does not disrupt the flow of the record—quite seamless at that, even with a handful of soothing instrumentals in the mix—or interfere with appreciating it per its personal merits. In a trademark fashion characteristic of the genre The Motion Mosaic adhere to, every component involved in the album is audible and actively cooperating, despite the fact the more disordered flashes appear dangerously close to spiraling out of control. These midwestern gents demonstrate a remarkable command over their chosen craft. Perhaps even more extraordinarily, the young set has managed to develop a distinctive nature. The unfortunately undying trope of ‘metalcore is dead’ still echoes in the desolate hallways of supermarkets, their inhabitants weary and skeptical of all who dare to peruse the walkways. Should there be one dominating theme to comprehend from the massive Avant-Garbage
, it is that amazing music can emerge from any corner of the globe, and it can be made with any variety of tools and stimuli. As confinement becomes the norm, trapping oneself in a room with a slice of metalcore’s best should become a hobby. Indulge, as tunes this fresh and exciting are something to treasure.