You might be forgiven for thinking with such a ridiculous name, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard were some kind of parody band, or pedallers of bog-standard doom metal.
You’d be mistaken: on their sophomore album, Y Proffwyd Dwyll, MWWB have taken the doom metal format and shaken it up, incorporating airy vocals, keyboards and psychedelic rock influences.
That’s not to say there aren’t the standard doomy tropes at play here. It’s clear from opener Valmaesque onwards that this is an album, like so many others, that’s devout to the crushing, repetitive riff. However, on Y Proffwyd Dwyll, they’re buried under layers of ethereal surreality. These elements have been increased ten-fold from MWWB‘s debut, Noeth Ac Anoeth, and it’s beneficial to their sound to no end.
The most obvious example of MWWB‘s atypical approach is vocalist Jessica Ball‘s breezy, light singing voice replacing what might usually be a gruff bark. But this was also present on Noeth Ac Anoeth, and there’s so much else here: multi-layered instrumentals, cosmic keyboards, progressive rock-influenced song structures.
Take the title track, for instance combines a heavy riff with a hazy atmosphere and an almost pop-like hook in a way that sounds otherworldly. It’s the least doomy of the tracks here, with the riff pushed firmly into the background, where they take centre stage elsewhere.
Another stand out is Osirian, which uses MWWB‘s psychedelic and progressive elements to make it even heavier than a typical doom track with a prominent, haunting keyboard motif that elevates the track to a level it might not have reached otherwise. Closer Cithuula erupts into a full-on Deftones-esque track three-quarters in, after seven minutes of crushing heaviness.
And that’s the key to MWWB‘s sound: the keyboards, the vocals, everything, could be passed off as a gimmick if they weren’t well-executed. Without them, MWWB would still be a great doom metal band. What makes this album great is the way these elements are melded into an existing sound and used to improve upon it. Also, despite being prominent within it, these foreign elements never seem overused, and the sound seems natural to MWWB.
The tracks on Y Proffwyd Dwyll do tend to bleed into each other a bit, which is a bit of a problem, as for all its originality it can sometimes sound a bit samey; however, this is a minor criticism in such a great album, which comes highly recommended for any fan of doom metal.
Standout Tracks: Y Proffwyd Dwyll, Osirian
For Fans Of: Electric Wizard, Cathedral, Neurosis
Written by: Alan Cunningham