Though I hadn't heard of Bulgarian math rockers Mental Architects myself, as soon as I heard their 2012 album Celebrations, I knew they weren't your average math rock band.
The key feature of Mental Architects' music is the impressive level of technical complexity that abounds in their music. But unlike most tech death or math rock acts, whose technicality can make their music abrasive and act as a deterrent to the casual listener, Mental Architects have found a way to work it seamlessly into a sound that can be enjoyed by anyone. Their musicianship is on full display but it works with the songs, not against or in spite of them. The way the melodies jump around the meter with their syncopation and odd rhythmic patterns feels incredibly natural, which only helps make the music even more engaging. The result is an album that is not just musically captivating, but it's also really, really fun.
It's hard to pick out particular moments when the entire album just plays so damn well, but the closing track "Once Again We Meet at Last" is full of slick riffs and unexpected twists and turns, and the second half of the opener "Spell Shelter" is absolutely to die for, full with tons of catchy yet disorientingly offbeat post-rock goodness. There's also the track "Caves of Keys" which, despite being incredibly understated, is just so exhilaratingly powerful--it rises to a level of intensity that's inexplicable alongside its deceivingly soft exterior. And these are just the highlights.
And just look at that cover art. The way those eyes, that face, and those eyebrows all combine to create a look of disturbing, intense, flat-out creepy enjoyment and curiosity sums up the aesthetic of this album better than any review can.
If we're going to split hairs, the only really marginally valid complaint I have against this album is that it doesn't really feel complete--it just sort of starts without warning and ends without concluding. It sounds like a bunch of (admittedly very awesome) sound bites instead of a planned collection, which is a touch off-putting.
But, that said, I really do not have anything substantively negative to say about this album. It brings a (slightly less creepy) smile to my face every time I listen to it, and I can only hope that you'll find the same. This album was a rare treat to enjoy. It's nothing but fun, smart math rock from beginning to end. Go buy this.
Recommended if you like: Battles, Don Caballero, Cloudkicker
9.5 / 10
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