If there were ever an award for a band whose talent, professionalism, and overall musical concept has gone unnoticed for too long, Mar De Grises would certainly be one of my nominees. 2010 may just be the year that Mar De Grises solidifies their spot as one of the finest bands to ever come out of Chile, or South America for that matter. After the re-release of their original demo EP this year, Streams Inwards is yet another nearly flawless album that goes along wonderfully with their discography thus far. Please take note, the most appropriate classification for this type of metal is indeed something of a progressive doom blend, but any type of genre tag ultimately falls short of the band’s superiority. If you’d like to know more about what the album sounds like, I suggest you simply close your eyes and tune in.
As you listen to Streams Inwards, be prepared to be faced with one question: is this real, or is it surreal? Mar De Grises, in their latest effort, paints the listener onto a canvas that is constantly changing. The only thing that seems to remain the same is the fact that you are within said canvas for the duration of the album, witnessing a series of fantastic events unfold before your eyes. That’s right, the music is presented so painstakingly clear that you can actually see yourself within the band’s enormous artwork. Not only does the band take you into their own dimensions, they take you within your own mind. Prepare to bear witness to something incredibly destructive, yet undeniably comforting.
Surreality. The atmosphere of the album is immediately saturated with carefully layered guitars that intermingle with precise keyboard programming. The sound is literally so thick, that you could slice through it with a knife. Your journey begins on a cliff that overlooks the entire world. It’s rare for an album to be this visual in nature. The operatic background vocals in “Shining Human Skin,” for example, are the perfect choir to one’s witnessing of the Earth’s utter desolation. Every sound that occurs adds changes to the picture they are constantly creating. A deluge of sharp, tremolo melodies in “The Bell and the Solar Gust” fly through the air like birds exploding before your eyes in a twilight horizon, as Streams Inwards literally allows you to feel as if you are soaring through the sky as this tremendous scene unfolds. You’re flying, but you can still feel the sound of the drums rumbling like a devastating earthquake. The beat patterns, both manual and electronic, add to the album’s constant variations. Instrumentally, every note seems to flutter and glide around the next… In this world, everything has its perfect place.
Reality. “Spectral Ocean” leads the listener in a new direction, away from the band’s own scenery and into an unsettling state of self-recollection. Electronic static waves bring you back to the present day. The songs, at times, are fuzzy and unclear. This effect, which obviously has a strong purpose, allows your thoughts to wander throughout the layers of the songs. Now you are treading through thick clouds of darkness in an industrialized world. This darkness represents your thoughts, as only bright lights can be seen in the distance. You feel somewhat lost as the guitars cry endless tears into a blackened city. The tears turn fluorescent as the melodic aspects have taken over as your guide. The music, however, never becomes melancholic. Instead, the listener is forced to come to terms with the fact that they aren’t in control.
Surreality. The finale of “Knotted Delirium” takes you back to a familiar precipice, only this time the canvas has changed quite significantly. You are now bearing witness to a grand transformation of the landscapes you had previously occupied. Whether that was just a few songs back or eons ago, you can’t be positive. With most music, the listener’s interpretation of it can greatly vary with their emotions or attitude at the time that they are listening. The unique thing about Mar De Grises, is that they control the listener with their music. Every note is precisely delivered with accuracy that most musicians could only dream of executing, and the overall instrumentation on Streams Inwards is utterly flawless.
You have just taken part in a remarkable journey, one that is realistic in that it allows you to reflect on the past and the present, and one that is surrealistic in that you will bear witness to unforeseen beauty as you hear each carefully constructed note. Off-timed drum patterns are executed with as much precision as every raw soundwave that squeezes its way out of the keyboards. The guitars intertwine beautifully and sound no less operatic than the frighteningly powerful choral bursts. Streams Inwards fits into place perfectly with The Tatterdemalion Express and Draining the Waterheart. Mar De Grises doesn’t tell you a story with their music — they put you inside of one, and this has certainly been on worth remembering.