Mouth of the Architect

Time & Withering

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Mouth of the Architect came out swinging with their inaugural effort, 2004's excellent Time & Withering, wasting no time in adding their name to the increasingly popular (and crowded) trance-metal scene of the early 2000s. Contemporary acts like Isis and Mogwai definitely make for easy comparisons, but, as is often the case, the overwhelming, often unacknowledged influence here comes from Oakland art-metal pioneers Neurosis. The latter's well-documented accomplishments are particularly strong in Mouth of the Architect's creations, which, as well as embarking on the lengthy, brooding expansiveness championed by all of the above, also make use of sparsely placed, ragged-throat, hardcore-style vocals drunk straight from the Neurosis wellspring. All this is well and good, however, since Mouth possess the requisite songwriting inventiveness and performance chops to bend and shape the style to their designs. As such, epic offerings like "A Vivid Chaos," "Soil to Stone," and "The Worm" constitute daunting exercises in mounting and relaxing tension, weaving delicate guitar pickings and the odd keyboard ambiance to the densely layered crunch-riff bedrock at their foundations. The only exception arrives with the disc's third offering, which breaks ranks to conclude at just under five minutes, and invariably sounds incomplete and substandard for it; but not enough to mar the overall accomplishment, marking Time & Withering as a startling mature and recommendable debut.

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