April 23, 2014

Mares of Thrace - The Pilgrimage

Written by Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.

Canadian doom/noise duo Mares of Thrace, based in Calgary, AB, feature guitarist/vocalist Thérèse Lanz (who plays a custom built baritone guitar with both guitar and bass pickups) and drummer Stef MacKichan. The Pilgrimage is their second album, following 2010's The Moulting. While Mares of Thrace have been together since 2008, Lanz and MacKichan have spent over ten years collaborating together, including in the defunct Kilbourne. As a result, there's a palpable intimacy and chemistry between them. The two women play together like two ego-less parts of the same machine, individually talented but of the same will. The Pilgrimage channels many similar themes of transformation that drove The Moulting, but on this record that change is the result of a journey brought about by external circumstances and experience.

Thérèse Lanz. Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

The record was produced Sanford Parker, who's very present, capturing the squeal of strings or Lanz's gasps for breath like audible chisel marks. Parker's work allows Mares of Thrace to express their full range of musical tools, amplifying the sheer muscular force of MacKichan's drumming – a discordant racket of thrashing anger or a passionate, moody throb – heightening the aching poignancy of Lanz's countermelodies or simply allowing the songs to drown in their venomous feedback. The Pilgrimage is vicious and viscous, the sound lush and merciless. The climbing leads sound as if they're dragging themselves up by the fingernails and the album's paced so that it seems to be dragging itself along by its stubborn strength. Grieving and defiant at equal turns, The Pilgrimage is a triumph.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

  1. I was so psyched to hear that Stef was back in the band and they were recording again. I love her drumming.

    1. I love their motto: "higher education and lowered tuning".

      Yeah, I know. A pretty random reply.