August 14, 2008 | | 4.5

Mouth of the Architect, Quietly

Fears of the band’s demise in late 2007 had many of the band’s fans fearing the worse. The departure of then guitarist/vocalist Gregory Lahm only proved to reunite the outfit with their original lead screamer and guitarist Alex Vernon. Whether it’s Vernon’s presence or just a progressive shift, Quietly sees the band bring in a more caustic, dissonant feel to eerie atmospherics over distorted guitars while thundering rhythms pummel and ebb along with the band’s emotions.

The album as a whole is a monster, mixing crushing sludgy riffs with massive drums along with Vernon’s angerfied growls and screams. Mouth of the Architect have certainly cemented their shoes firmly into the skulls of their own past and those of their contemporaries with this latest epic slab of ambient, distorted and sulferous metal. The only thing next is to see how they stack up in the race for album of the year.

The album’s title track starts off slowly with light, ambient noise and keyboards. Some lightly distorted, distant guitar comes in just before the one minute mark to accompany the opening notes with a pronounced psychodelic feel. As the vocals come in around the two minute mark the guitars take a more sludgy, menacing tone. Slow moving, doomy riffs dominate a good portion of this song with Vernon’s caustic screams. The sound of the album, thus far, is massive — a wall of sonically distorted guitars and heavy drums. There’s a good deal of ambient effects and keys toward the end of this ten minute and then some track.

Hate and Heartache
After that epic opening, Mouth of the Architect opens up the next track with light guitars and a classic sound byte from Network‘s Howard Beal. Along with that clip are ambient guitars and a few production affects that shift to big riffs and heavy, but controlled drums as the sound clip ends. The slower pace to this one really accentuates Vernon’s vocal delivery and the impressive guitars. Sludgier riffs and layered vocals come in just before the three minute mark with a more ferocious delivery. I love the distance in the guitars around the five minute mark as the drums make their departure. The dissonant guitars continue till the six minute mark as the drums reappear with rumbling bass and catchy guitars. The track ends with a dump truck load of anger and vehemence.

Pine Boxes
“Pine Boxes” starts with distant ambient noise and dramatic, slowly played keys. Layered female and male spoken vocals carry the melancholy, solemn tone through till the end of this quiet track.

Guilt and the Like
After the slowdown of “Pine Boxes” Mouth of the Architect comes back with slowly developing guitars and light drumming to start off “Guilt and the Like.” Vernon’s vocals are make for a great contrast to the light guitar tones and light drum work. Holy crap… the band opens up with huge riffs and massive drums just after the three minute mark. The amount of power in this explosion of sound is huge — not to mention the absolutely thundering drums that carry on for the next two minutes or so before making their leave. The track ends with an extended perior of discordant guitar noise and ambient keyboard elements.

Generation of Ghosts
Featuring Julie Christmas of Made Out of Babies, “Generation of Ghosts” starts off with distant guitar noise and ambient ebbing that lasts till about the two minute mark. After that point light drumming and catchy guitars come in with Christmas’ delivery in the background a bit. The mix on this one is perfect, especially as Vernon’s vocals join into the dissonance. The ten minute track is epic and cannot be missed.

Rocking Chairs and Shotguns
I love the title of this one. It starts out slowly with light guitar picking for the first two minutes before fairly heavy drums come in. This one has a pretty trippy/psychodelic feel to it, as well. It’s definitely one track that you could lose yourself in. The varied vocal deliveries layered upon one another adds good depth to an already rich sound.

After the beefy ending to “Rocking Chairs and Shotguns,” this next one gets ofter to another quiet start with light guitars and keyboards. This relatively short instrumental lasts about two minutes and is quickly swallowed by the album closer.

A Beautiful Corpse
For all the soft, ambient landscapes that Mouth of the Architect have painted on the previous tracks, the opening riffs blow them all to hell with a massive wall of doom. This closing track is full of piss, vinegar and sludge. Thicker than all get out riffs and heavy handed drums pummel you senseless for a solid seven minutes. I love the closing group growls and shouts with no backing music — very fucking cool.

~ ~ ~

The sonic landscape that Mouth of the Architect has constructed on Queitly is epic, brutal and beautiful. Crushing, sludge filled riffs combine with discordant guitar noise to create a rich, textured sound while bludgeoning rhythms not only smother, but accentuate the subtle melodies found deep within each track. This is a masterful release on the band’s part.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: