Dark, melancholic, sludgy, yet still somehow upbeat. The second album from Bordeaux hard rock outfit Seeds of Mary, The Blackbird and the Dying Sun, is a gloriously gloomy blend of grunge, metal and stoner rock. It is a record clearly written for blasting in the car on long drives to nowhere in the middle of the night, for the disconsolate adolescent to listen to in their bedroom in the dark, for the shoegaze hipster in the coffee shop editing his new material on Pro Tools. The harmonies are reminiscent of Alice in Chains’ best work, while the driving beat heard from the bass and drums still adds a modern feel that can be heard from the likes of Mastodon, or Royal Blood (only less monotonous and irritatingly radio friendly).
From a bassist point of view, the sophomore track “Here Comes The Night” has a solid groove throughout and becomes the driving force behind many of the singles on the record. The rhythm and the bass gives an already promising album the badass, snarling attitude and boot to the face it needs to grab the attention of the listener.
The first thing new fans will notice right from the get go is that there are several points on this album where, by comparison, the vocalist’s resemblance to Marilyn Manson’s later work is incredibly spooky. Both artists have the same low chest growl and eerie, darkwave overtone. If you were to momentarily zone out while listening to “The Blackbird”, you could swear you were listening to “If I Was Your Vampire” from his sixth record Eat Me, Drink Me (2007). That blend of Layne Staley esque grunge and Manson is reprised again on “Sense and Sacrifice” and “Oceanic Feeling”.
“The Dying Sun” features an overhanging melody that will haunt you long after the final few seconds of the track. With a slow burn and explosive build, it bewitches you its only downfall is its length, at almost eight minutes long it gets a little tiresome after a while, there is not much variety in its structural formula and so it begins to feel like it may have been best to shave off a minute or two towards the end. But this does not take away from the quality of the song writing, it still manages to hold up as a decent effort even if it does go on a bit. This is well contrasted with the driving beat and guitars on the subsequent track “Sovereign Mind”. The chorus takes a surprising turn compared to the moodiness of the rest of the album, with an annoyingly catchy melody.
Something about this band and this album feels so underground, so odd and so fresh, yet at the same time so familiar. Even the album artwork instantaneously harkens back to the cover of The Hunter by Mastodon (2011), only now the stag featured on the front has since run off to join a moon goddess worshipping cult. Still, however familiar this piece may feel, it still manages to be pleasantly unlike any other run-of-the-mill alternative metal band.
Seeds of Mary have shown potential in abundance as the next upcoming stoner rock band to rise to great heights such as their predecessors. The one minor downfall of this act – and it is intended purely as constructive criticism – is that they could do with adding a little more diversity in their riffs here and there. It all becomes slightly repetitive after a while, but only slightly. They still managed to pull a pretty decent record out of the hat despite this. But all in all, an interesting, insightful and fresh take on the genre. Highly recommended for fans of Queens of the Stone Age, Mastodon, Soundgarden and Muse.