Mouth of the Architect isn't a name heard nearly as often as it should. They have an impressive discography under their belt--releases like their split with Kenoma and their monumental studio album The Ties That Blind show that these guys really do mean business. If nothing else, the Ohioan quintet possess an unaccountably voluminous zest and energy that their shoegazing peers so often lack--and their newest album, Dawning, is a perfect case in point.
Firstly, Dawning feels much more melodic than previous Mouth of the Architect releases. The compositions seem to have a more clearly defined sense of direction than on some of their previous studio efforts. Instead of wandering off into the distance as tracks on Time & Withering or Quietly were wont to do, all of the songs on Dawning have a well-defined aim and momentum, which makes them both more enjoyable and more powerful to listen to. Songs like "Sharpen Your Axes" and "The Other Son" are only reinforced by their comparative compactness, using the sense of focus to highlight their strongest elements in sharp relief.
While the album keeps a thick layer of dark sludge about it, its tone is noticeably brighter; the pieces seem much more driven by clear melody than sheer force alone, a trend that carries over from The Violence Beneath. (I mean, is it possible to cover Peter Gabriel in any other way?) Even in the dripping depths of tracks like "How This Will End" it's possible to find some clarity; heck, "It Swarms" and "Patterns" even border on anthemic. All this adds up towards making the album viscerally moving on an unnaturally effective level. Dawning doesn't just take hold of your emotions; it guns down their car, throws them onto the pavement, and fully throttles them into submission. Trying to resit the inevitable undulation only means it will drag you down harder--and at that point, you'll be begging for it. It's a really effective album, is what I'm getting at.
While this may not be, strictly speaking, their best album (The Ties That Blind is an incredibly difficult release to top), there's no doubt that Dawning is a well-constructed, emotionally affecting, and compositionally effective album. More than ever, Mouth of the Architect are making a serious bid for the title of best post-metal band around, and fans of the genre will find Dawning to be a very convincing argument.
Recommended if you like: Cult of Luna, Rosetta, Omega Massif
8.5 / 10
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