Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mares of Thrace: The Pilgrimage (2012)

Proving a Point

Women in metal don't get as much respect as they deserve. They don't hit the drums hard enough. They can't growl. So go the usual criticisms. Canadian band Mares of Thrace seems like it was formed precisely to destroy such notions. Not only is it an all-female band, but they've handicapped themselves from the get-go, operating as a two-piece of just drums and guitar.

They create far more racket than any two people have a right to. They use their tools to lay down largely Remission-inspired riffs, the occasional punk rhythm, and ferocious wildcat snarls. It's also barely produced, with no noticeable overdubs and very little electronic accompaniment, as if to emphasize the point further: The ladies can play.

The stripped-down, live nature of their sound is a double-edged sword. At their best ("The Goat Thief," "The Gallwasp") they're an unquestionable presence. But they don't bring their best riffs every time (see "The Perpetrator"). Without makeup, the blemishes are all too obvious. I love the natural feel, but there were moments where the loud drum hits did not sound good--perhaps the fault of my 192 kbps promo, perhaps not.

Overall, they've proven any point they could have set out to make. Except the non-necessity of bass in metal. With 100% perfect material, it would work, but nobody writes a whole album that good.

The Verdict: Through The Pilgrimage, Mares of Thrace have undone any damage to the reputation of metal women done by Gallhammer. Both bands need to get a third member, though. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Buy The Pilgrimage

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