San Francisco-based Mamaleek
achieved a tense hybrid of black-metal frenzy, industrial syncopation, shoegazing distortion and dark ambience on Mamaleek (2008).
Winter'll Be Over Soon, the heaviest song, is an impressive concentrate of claustrophobic angst, but
Shall I Die alternates acoustic and manic moments, and
the distorted and epileptic I Wish I Was Dead ends like a Pink Floyd lullaby.
If the ten-minute gothic collage of Deep River feels a bit childish,
the 18-minute Shout On Children bridges an alt-country overture with
an ending of black-metal desperation via
a droning choir that morphs into an abrasive radiation, alien footsteps,
and operatic singing.
The shrieks and blastbeats are never
The sound on Fever Dream (Furusiyya Recordings, 2008) is generally denser and scarier.
I Can't Stay Behind, torn between recitation and shrieking, alternates
violent outbursts of distortion and pastoral quiet.
There are moments of
relentless tension in Go Into The Wilderness, in the
horror vignette Winter Has A Grave And I'm In It, and especially in
the savage dance of I Saw The Beam In My Sister's Eye.
But there are also melodic elements: Poor Rosy could be a country lament without the flowing lava of distortions and if the singer crooned instead of sobbing.
Out of nowhere, the band also discovers jazz:
Stars Begin To Fall explodes a conventional bebop theme and the album also contains a cover of Charlie Parker's Anthropology.
Mamaleek gave up on the blastbeats on
Kurdaitcha (2011), with a much broader stylistic palette and no fear of trying unorthodox combinations.
The delirious vocals and incendiary riffs of The Hypocrite & The Concubine and
Some Valiant Soldier
never escalate into full-tilt hysteria, and the ferocious
Wake Up Jacob, save a brief demonic break, is a
midtempo industrial dance.
My Body Rock Long Fever blends
the church chanting, hip-hop beat and Steve Reich-ian piano minimalism and ends with an undulating violin melody.
The White Marble Stone fuses psychotic shrieks, distorted garage riff, midtempo drums, and angelic backup vocals.
What A Trying Time delves into droning ambient music and ends with a slow gothic dance.
Sinner Won't Die No More is a sonata per found noises.
This album plays a game of extreme contrasts, collisions, stylistic terrorism and insane cross-pollination.
The mini-album He Never Spoke a Mumbling Word (2014) is a louder and
more aggressive beast, starting with the mournful He Never Spoke A Mumblin' Word and peaking in intensity with
the booming rock'n'roll rave-up Almost Done Toiling Here.
The ten-minute Poor Mourner's Got a Home is the brainy centerpiece:
magniloquent distortion over a thundering rhythm and a monks choir.
After the nine short songs of the mini-album Via Dolorosa (2015),
Out of Time (2018) was unrelated to black metal altogether, with
slow and atmospheric semi-ballads like Sicarii and
and strage theatrical pieces like the doom-y
The Recompense Is Real
The Last Is The First,
moving towards (or mocking) mainstream pop muzak in Out Of Love
and in the funky My Master My Father My Author.
Come & See (2020), the first album recorded with a full band,
Eating Unblessed Meat, an aberration of
Captain Beefheart-ian blues-metal with bizarre noise interludes,
We Hang Because We Must, a chaotic and expressionist blues nightmare,
besides the indulgent (and less credible) pseudo-jazz of Cabrini-Green.
Diner Coffee (2022) is, if possible, even more anarchic and catastrophic.
Boiler Room is so disjointed it feels like it's multiple songs into one,
and nonetheless it's horror-stoner blues manages to concoct a consistent atmosphere.
The seven-minute Badtimers is a more coherent suite that morphs from sparse guitar notes to shrieking vocals and to a funereal and desperate growl over a women's choir and so on.
The eight-minute Grief and a Headhunter's Rage (the standout) dwells in the interstice
between atonal jazz and Beefheart-ian blues.
They indulge in chaotic bacchanal in the middle of
Wharf Rats in the Moonlight and in one last agonizing dissonant blues in