Maggot Brain – Land

Maggot Brain – Land – 4.5/5

I think its no coincidence that I spend more time looking for rock classics from the past than I do trying to navigate the present, as something fairly impressive has happened this last decade: rock musicians have forgotten how to play. Lumbered with badly sung whiny frontmen and three chord wonders, or perhaps a reunion of musicians trying to remember how they managed to rock so hard in the glory days, in either case the result is rarely good, and its with releases such as this that you can’t help but crack a smile and give a small internal cheer that there are still artists holding down the fort.

Now I must confess after the manner things kicked off before, the opening track had me a little worried as it’s a lot slower paced than much of the album. Despite being one of the albums highlights, boasting an impressive emotion-laden chorus that’ll stay with you for weeks, it comes unexpectedly. These Spaniards have disappeared for 5 years since ‘Second Chance’ but it doesn’t feel as though they’ve been twiddling their thumbs; everything feels more polished, more mature. From the greatest southern rock solo since Skynyrd’s ‘Free Bird’ in ‘Birds in the Head’ to the stoner grooves in ‘Beggars House,’ they’ve not just matched their previous efforts but done it in a gloriously diverse style.

It is the attack of the four guitars that drive this release, able to afford the versatility of an acoustic, rhythm, lead and a bass all working together, or even provide a duelling lead solo with plenty of backing still behind them. The drums maintain the beat with an often simplistic vivacity that whilst rarely feeling overtly technical or frantic, never quite seem content doing the bare minimum, all finished off by the vocals capable of presenting his hard hitting pulsating rhythms that remain addictive whether being played for the first time or the fifteenth. It is this simple musical formula that has played to a standard that hasn’t felt this fresh for decades, and all this is neglecting the tasteful little touches; the occasional use of keyboards, backing chorus’ and trumpets adding a little bit more of a flavour to the insatiable southern grooves.

The production is immaculate to reflect all this, which is no easy feat with such a quantity of tracks to mix together; the vocals soaring over the many intertwined guitar lines and the drums allowing for every strike to read loud and clear, never drowning out the rest of the instruments with their cymbals. Sure, there are little issues to be nitpicked; the occasional distinct accent from the vocalist, or the perhaps questionable track order (opening with a ballad, and having many of the strongest tracks early on), but when the result is of such a high standard it doesn’t matter. How they haven’t garnered appeal outside of the native country remains a mystery to me as they have demonstrated once again their abilities above and beyond much of the competition. In the days where rock looks like its on its last legs, it is bands like this that remind us that there is still hope yet.

Highlights: Awake, Birds in the Head, Long Distance Call, Land

Pending an international release, details to order direct from the artist will be added at the bottom. Alternatively you can purchase through itunes here, and/or listen to their last album, Second Chance, reviewed here

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REX said…
Hi guys,

This is Maggot Brain's proud official merchandisers. :) Just wanted to let any passers-by know you can get MB's new CD(+DVD) online at our site:

Thanks, rock on!