Review Summary: Epilogue or re-Introduction?

Motherjane’s sophomore album, 2008’s Maktub, established them as leading lights of Indian rock and metal. Here, finally, was a band with the instrumental acumen to write prog as intricate as the western bands that Indian metalheads worshipped, coupled with a flair for Carnatic music that made their sound unmistakably and unabashedly Indian.[1] They were pioneers for a generation of musicians yearning for homegrown heroes; original and unique in a way that local bands rarely were. But a funny thing happened on the way to album #3. At the peak of their success the band fragmented, with virtuosic guitarist Baiju Dharmajan departing in 2010 followed soon after by vocalist Suraj Mani. The rest of the band soldiered on through the 2010s, sporadically releasing singles without their two most recognizable members and receding into the history blogs while bands like Skyharbor and Bloodywood picked up the torch of Indian metal.

However, it turns out Motherjane weren’t done just yet. With vocalist Niranj Suresh and guitarist Anubhav Langthasa stepping into the breech, III is as much a (mini) mission statement as it is a love letter to the fans who have waited fourteen(!) years for a follow-up to Maktub.[2] It finds a revitalised Motherjane showcasing a musical restlessness and evolution that’s admirable for a band more than 25 years old. While Maktub and its predecessor, Insane Biography, were products of a band that grew up listening to artists like Kansas, Dream Theater, and Queensryche, III embraces modern prog through the angular rhythms of “Awoke”, the ambient layers of “Plane Man”, and the skittering techy riffs of “Contact Sense”. “Clay Play”, which was originally released as a single in 2015, combines those elements into an unpredictable and jittery composition that would have been the EP's clear highlight but for a vocal performance that’s not quite as polished as it could have been.[3]

Throughout III, Langthasa references Baiju’s trailblazing style by dropping slinky raga licks into his riffs and solos, but does so without overwhelming the songs or sounding beholden to Baiju. It’s interesting that the band included “Clay Play” on the EP but not their most recent single, 2018’s “Namaste”, with the most likely reason being that the latter, though a terrific song, was a radical departure from the band’s Carnatic-influenced sound. Clearly recognizing that the Carnatic dimension is their sonic signature, they build the new songs on the “Clay Play” template with the result being an enticing group of prog tunes whose melodies and moods don’t go quite where you think they will, and find unusual and elastic ways to get there. While III isn’t without its flaws—its brevity and lack of truly earworm vocal hooks, for instance—it's a more than worthy epilogue to the legacy of one of India’s most beloved bands, or perhaps even the beginning of an exciting new chapter. Time will tell.


[1] South Indian classical music, for those not in the know.
[2] In comparison, Tool fans had to wait only thirteen years.
[3] “Clay Play” actually features Vivek Thomas on vocals and Nithin Vijayanath on guitars, neither of whom are still with the band.



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user ratings (3)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
SitarHero
May 21st 2022


14726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A lot of significance for me here. Maktub was my first review, and this is my 69th (nice) and possibly my last.



"Clay Play": https://youtu.be/-70NQaWvnFU

pizzamachine
May 21st 2022


27334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You had me at Indian riffs.

SitarHero
May 21st 2022


14726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Check it Pizza and show it some love!

parksungjoon
May 21st 2022


47235 Comments


if i like when tool steals indian music will i like this

SitarHero
May 21st 2022


14726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Only one way to find out. The EP's only 18 minutes long anyway, so it's not much of a time commitment either.

parksungjoon
May 21st 2022


47235 Comments


ah

parksungjoon
May 21st 2022


47235 Comments


maybe ill check

either way cheers reppin something that isnt the same crap all over the site

SitarHero
May 22nd 2022


14726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers dude! m/

pizzamachine
May 22nd 2022


27334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good album, I enjoy the unpredictable songwriting and the not overly auto-tuned vocals.

AlexTM510
May 22nd 2022


1471 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

my god i haven't heard these guys in years, didn't even realize these guys were dropping thanks for sharing. really digging this!

SitarHero
May 22nd 2022


14726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad you dug it pizza!





"didn't even realize these guys were dropping"



Yeah, it was a complete surprise to me too. Hopefully this is a sign that they're going to continue putting out new music.

parksungjoon
May 22nd 2022


47235 Comments


nice feature gz

parksungjoon
May 22nd 2022


47235 Comments


honestly this wasnt quite what i was expecting nor particularly to my taste (altho i did like namaste a bit more than this)

on the bright side theres def ppl on this site who would dig it

Pho3nix
May 22nd 2022


1617 Comments


https://youtu.be/y4EyEr9FYwM?t=157

Cool band for sure ^^

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2022


26301 Comments


Last review what??

parksungjoon
May 22nd 2022


47235 Comments


yea those kinda guitar bits are highlights for sure

i also thought the bloke singing on clay play kinda reminded me of devin townsend in some way i cant quite put my finger on (in a good way)

parksungjoon
May 22nd 2022


47235 Comments


> https://youtu.be/y4EyEr9FYwM?t=157


i might actually prefer this to this new ep also, huh

SitarHero
May 22nd 2022


14726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Last review what??"



Lol, I haven't had the time or motivation to review anything since August 2020 and that's unlikely to change anytime soon, but I wanted to at least get to 69 reviews and this was the perfect album for it.

SitarHero
May 23rd 2022


14726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"https://youtu.be/y4EyEr9FYwM?t=157"



Yup defo one of their best songs.



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