01. Quietly 02. Hate and Heartache 03. Guilt and the Like 04. Generation of Ghosts 06. Rocking Chairs and Shotguns 07. Medicine 08. A Beautiful Corpse2008 Translation Loss Records
The last year has been a period of major change for Translation Loss' Mouth of the Architect. In September of 2007, the band shockingly announced their break up, a decision triggered by the departure of guitarist and vocalist Gregory Lahm, the primary songwriter of The Ties That Blind. The split proved to be short lived as the band resurrected themselves in but a few days, thanks to the return of former guitarist and vocalist Alex Vernon, a member from the band's Time and Withering era. And with the line-up changes, the band has removed old songs from their live show and showcased a significant songwriting shift with the release of Quietly. Gone are the days of The Ties That Blind and their frequent use of thick melodic grooves and often soothing melodies. Instead, Quietly displays a stylistic move toward the inclusion of increasingly eerie melodies layered on top of doomy low end, and as a result, feels exactly like the direction the band would have taken after Time and Withering had Vernon remained a member of the group. Quietly begins with slowly developing ambience accompanied by subdued keys and continues to layer on delay-soaked guitar work until the track locks into a section of sparse and slow moving doom riffs. The track is a perfect example of the band's decision to focus most of the album's melody in thinner lead guitar and keyboard work, rather than keeping it in low end guitar riffs. "Guilt and the Like" has a strong Time and Withering feel, anchoring itself upon a strangely plodding lead keyboard line and cleaner guitar rhythms before the song erupts into a period of pummeling drumming and thick non-melodic riffs. The beautifully brooding vocal appearance from Julie Christmas of Made Out of Babies/Battle of Mice on "Generation of Ghosts" adds another facet of dark melody to Quietly, yet doesn't demand the spotlight as it sits low enough in the mix to remain complementary. And Mouth of the Architect saved the best for last, as the album closer, "A Beautiful Corpse," showcases unbridled heaviness as it provides a bulldozing combination of Neurosis' burly abrasiveness and Floor's notorious bomb notes. With Quietly, Mouth of the Architect has reasserted itself as arguably the top player in the collection of Neurosis and Isis influenced metal acts. The record isn't as immediately accessible as the band's previous offering, but it packs in just as many rewarding moments. And those who enjoyed the often eerily melodic elements of Time and Withering will be rejoicing, as the album feels like the direct follow up to the band's debut record. The only downside of Quietly comes with the overall album flow. When the band is in the midst of any of the disc's six main tracks, listeners would be hard pressed to find a group more capable of creating effortlessly developing musical compositions spanning the great spectrum from subtle ambient soundscapes to destructively crushing metallic climaxes. But when the band tacks on short piano interludes like "Pine Boxes" and "Medicine" that fail to further develop the album, the disc's continuity feels a bit interrupted. When combined with the 90 second, disjointed intro of "Rocking Chairs and Shotguns," these elements impede the progression of the album and prove to be rather superfluous. Despite this, these moments comprise a minute part of Quietly, and are far from capable of derailing the metallic behemoth that Mouth of the Architect continues to be. Bottom Line: After a few line-up changes, Mouth of the Architect has reemerged with a record that recalls the band's earlier songwriting mentality, offering a combination of intense, non-melodic doom metal and darkly ambient guitar and keyboard layers. It's slightly less accessible than The Ties That Blind, but after a few spins, it proves to be just as satisfying.