• Mon, Oct 25, 2021
Reviews

Midhaven Go Mystical On New Album

9.0

album Reviews Aug 03, 05:15pm

‘Of The Lotus & The Thunderbolt’ is a real pleasure

Mumbai three-piece Midhaven is pretty much a decade old at this point, which is a pretty crazy thing to think about. Their first album came out in 2014; even this new album here was done two years ago but the pandemic ruined their release plans, as it did for many a release. Anyhow, ‘Of The Lotus & The Thunderbolt’ is finally out, and it is every bit worth the wait. We don’t get to enjoy tightly packed, concise but wide-ranging metal albums too often, and this release is definitely one of those and is thus more than rewarding.

This is a concept album, so sound is just everything. Midhaven does a good job of prioritising just that. It’s mixed and mastered by Forrester Savell (who’s done Karnivool records, Animals As Leaders material and more), so it sounds huge, of course. Aditya Mohanan layers guitars in a few interesting ways, going from warm lead tones to some pretty massive walls of distorted sound in certain places. To say Aviraj Kumar’s drums are punchy is an understatement; at times they are colossal and give the songs here a lot of girth. His and Karan Kaul’s vocal layers do have that flavour of Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders in terms of cleans and more metal-y sounds. In fact, there is something mystical, high-concept and dynamic about this album that does sort of remind you of Mastodon’s first four albums, which are themselves some of the best modern concept albums in the space. Midhaven puts their own spin on their subject matter of choice.

So, ‘Of The Lotus & The Thunderbolt’ is about the concept of time and is built around the characteristic of Shiva that is the lord of time (Mahakaal). Now, yes, obviously that’s all very hyperbolic and all that, but the long and short of it is that band talks mostly about the futility and completeness of time itself and our possible journeys through it. Obviously, this is excellent material to write metal to, so it’s a wonderful thing that they don’t limit themselves in sounds and pacing over the seven songs here. ‘Codeman’, for example, is a mid-tempo banger with much chugging and half-time grooving. The vocals too are quite heavy and grating here. The guitars go for the wall-of-sound approach with great success; there are times when the sound truly fills your ears to bursting, which is the intended effect.

 

 

It is then followed up by ‘The Immanent Effervescence Of Sorrow’ (short titles are the best), a rather pretty guitar-led song that has one of the most satisfying switch-ups and main riffs you’ll find on the album. A melodic line, some wonderful modulation and a solo of sorts later, another shift happens in the form of the chant-backed ‘Zhitro’, a lumbering slab of guitars, china cymbals and double kick-grooves. The vocals go lower too; these are songs that inspire completely different moods in the space of barely ten minutes. Even the way the album starts is heady as hell, from the introspective ‘Para Brahman’ to the explosive ‘Primal Song’ with its head-crushing riffs. ‘Mahakaal’ is the most proggiest track on here with its truly great riff and off-kilter vocals. The journey ends with the instrumental ‘Bhairav’ with acts like an epilogue and quiet bookend to the chaos that preceded it.

It really isn’t easy to just stitch all these impulses together into an album this rewarding to the listener. It’s actually worth noting; ‘Of The Lotus & The Thunderbolt’ is only 34 minutes long. This is no joke, then. The seven songs here are expertly crafted, well produced and altogether great, great fun to listen to. The fact that there is so much energy to be had in this listening experience is something to really absorb, appreciate and behold. The replay button awaits.

 

Listen here.

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