Mountain God‘s new album Bread Solstice is a fascinating trip, an immersive, trance-inducing affair that’s nevertheless harrowing, and as heavy as an avalanche coming through your splintering skull. The centerpiece of the album is an 11 1/2 minute monolith named “Nazca Lines“, and we’re giving you the chance to hear it now in advance of the album’s March 24 release by Artificial Head Records.
Brooklyn-based Mountain God first began to take shape in 2012 and the band’s line-up now consists of guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi, bassist/keyboardist Nik Kamineni (ex-Alkahest), and drummer/vocalist Ryan Smith (Thera Royal). This new album follows the band’s 2013 EP Experimentation On The Unwilling and their 2015 single-track monument, Forest of the Lost.
“Nazca Lines” straddles a fracturing line between a force of nature and the hallucinatory ruminations of some dark and ancient god. We sought insights about this imposing track from the band, and received the following comments from Ben Ianuzzi:
“Conceptually, ‘Nazca Lines’ is the centerpiece of Side A of Bread Solstice, and really is the focal point for the whole record. The idea for the song came from a reasonably obscure fact that I learned about the Nazca people – that while many Mesoamerican civilizations captured and forced people into human sacrifice, there is evidence that many within the Nazca civilization willingly gave themselves up for their gods. I was particularly struck by this, and started wondering what that scene must have looked like. Thus, the premise of the record stemmed from that, as I thought about the situation from the perspectives of the priests, the people, and the sacrificial lamb.
“For us, story and theme are as important as the notes themselves. Every record we’ve written has focused on something. In the case of Experimentation on the Unwilling, it was about perversion within our society. On Forest of the Lost, it was all about the fine line between hero and villain. On Bread Solstice, we tackled the notion of what it means to sacrifice oneself for a cause, and the potential danger when political and religious forces involve themselves in such a situation.
“Musically, ‘Nazca Lines’ is a great example of where we wanted to take the band at the time. It’s actually a pretty old riff dating all the way back to 2013, which I wrote immediately after seeing Neurosis for the first time. Once we started recording Bread Solstice, Ryan, Nik and I really tore it apart, taking the idea in a lot of different directions. I personally think it has a bit of a funeral doom feel to it, and it is certainly otherworldly compared to our older material. But, since we always start with the theme before the music, and since space plays such an important role in the story of this lamb, it ended up making sense to us in the end.
“It’s by far the most collaborative song on the record, with each of us adding something to the dynamics and general progression. It reflects our personalities and tastes. Also, I thought the writing process for the song was pretty organic and is a good indicator of our influences while at the same time not bashing someone over the head with false diversity for the sake of it.”
“False diversity” is definitely not an accusation that could be leveled against this track. It certainly evolves and changes, but everything fits, and the result is a staggering experimental sludge/doom saga.
The isolated reverberating riff at the beginning spins a dismal, ghostly melody that becomes a recurring theme. The band gradually add layers to that looping motif — a deep, martial drum rhythm and additional chiming and shimmering guitars — and then begin in earnest the process of pulling your mind into a dark and unsettling dimension.
Stricken, skin-splitting vocal shrieks emerge, along with glacial, mountainous riffs that together turn the atmosphere of the music into something catastrophic and despairing. There are bursts of lurching, chugging intensity, but the music continues to collapse back into an ominous dirge, laced with slow, bleak, discordant melody and filaments of hallucinatory guitar. As it slows even further, the massive rhythms and sorrowful, chiming chords only deepen the entrancing yet destabilizing effect of the experience — right up to a surge of jackhammering in the final minute.
Bread Solstice will be released on vinyl/digital on the 24th of March, 2017. Pre-order the vinyl here:
To give you a different kind of taste of the music that awaits within Bread Solstice, we’re also including a stream of the previously released single “Karmic Truth“, along with our own premiere of “Nazca Lines“.
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