Mar de Grises - _Streams Inwards_
(Season of Mist, 2010)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (
While the Chileans' debut impressed me out of my socks, their sophomore release, though imaginative and strong in its own accord, left me a bit wanting. Perhaps it was the change in vocalist-cum-keyboard-player, perhaps the reduction in speed and heaviness. Something that they step on once again in their third album _Streams Inwards_, where they are once again dissolving and rebuilding their sound as a band.Sounding much more confident and finding their inspiration, well, inwards, Mar de Grises spend the first half of this album in a decisively heavy manner. In fact, one can hardly remember them being as pummeling and bone shattering heavy in the past as they are in the first three songs of _Streams Inwards_. "Starmaker" and "Shinning Human Skin" alternate constantly between complex guitar and drum patterns and melancholy themes. "The Bell and the Solar Gust" is the highlight of the album though. It is damn heavy yet melodic and atmospheric, at least on par with the debut's phenomenal "Storm", in both atmosphere and sheer musical indulgence. The drumming is especially worthy of mention, with its intricate contrasts and juxtaposition against the guitars half way through the song.After that, the direction switches to the more dream-like and softer side of the band's multifaceted approach to doom metal. However, it never fails in being interesting and involving. Perhaps personally I would have cheered more wholeheartedly if the band had kept the album fast paced throughout, but maybe in that case they would have lost an important element of their sound. Furthermore, Mar de Grises choose to explore further on their take of experimental ambient they started in _Draining the Waterheart_'s bonus material, with yet another bonus track in this album offered in the limited digipak release. An interesting track, if a bit disjointed with the rest of the album.It is important to note that Mar de Grises have not veered far away from their roots just yet, but merely honed in more precisely on their selected soundscape. All the ambient elements from the previous two releases are still here, expanded in depth even if contracted in overall scope. There is a massive improvement in the vocals department though, with Juan Escobar sounding a lot more confident this time in both his growled and clean singing. Fans of the band's more straightforward facet will love the first half of the album, whereas sensitive and hurt souls will drift closer to the second half's meandering yet absorbing musical escapades this album has to offer.
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