Starting their career without even an album release, PALE MARE demonstrate what all the fuss is about with their self-titled EP and give an hint as to what deep, heavy sounds they can conjure.
Coming in with that well-known sludge sound, a fuzz around the heavy bass and gravelled vocals is pushed to its absolute limit on Descolada. The influence of BLACK TUSK, BARONESS and MASTODON are clear, with the same feel in the grooves, perhaps with a little more laid back, smouldering intensity rather than a blazing flame. It’s a solid burn throughout, but could have done with a little mix up in tone or momentum towards the latter end of the song.
However, that momentum kicks in when Carthage pushes in as track two, with a little more jump in the drums and just a hint more experimental guitarwork to keep things interesting. There’s plenty of heart in this track, which is honestly the most engaging thing about this EP. You can feel the passion and the true desire to make something of this music, and the willingness to try things within the realms of doom and sludge. Some experiments really work; some could do with a little more enhancement, just to push those boundaries a little more. Nonetheless, all that potential is all the more tantalising to see how PALE MARE will grow. The muddiness of this sound is obviously intentional, but some of the more forceful moments get lost to their own design at the climax of the track, which is a shame, as surely at a live show the performance of such a loaded tune would demonstrate the intensity a little better.
With every critique to improve upon, track by track, PALE MARE seems to have already anticipated a change. Finally, Hoplite gets the levels spot on, you can pick out the thudding drumbeats and the grooves from the guitars, while all the while enjoying a sound that still feels thick as tar. A mix of slower moments and itchy higher-octane riff, this is surely a good sign of things to come.
While continually experimenting, and altering the overall tone of a sound while keeping the dynamic core of the band, PALE MARE has managed to create a solid EP that delivers some high points and promises to smooth out the kinks in time for a full-length release.
Pale Mare is out now via Medusa Crush Recordings.
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