Deviations – Mammoth
Well I guess I have to thank my good friend Dirk Radloff for introducing me to this 3 piece band from Los Angeles who go by the name of Mammoth after he very kindly sent it me as a gift on my birthday. I have to say it was quite a very good gift too.
I must say it’s very strange how any band would want to call themselves Mammoth. Especially when there have already been 7 bands who have gone by the same name over the past 3 decades. Oddly enough the first band that went by the name of Mammoth was a 4 piece band and were formed from the breakup of the Ian Gillan band back in the 80’s here in the UK.
Though that band only made 1 album it consisted of a load of heavy weights with a 19 stone bass player. A 22 stone drummer. A 24 stone guitar player and a 20 stone vocalist. They was certainly a Mammoth and perhaps lived up more to the name more than the 3 light weights we have here :)))))).
Joking aside and as light weighted the guys may appear to be in this 3 piece band who go by the same name, they certainly are in fine shape and their music carries quite a lot of weight with how so very well they have crafted and structured it all together.
The Band Mammoth…
Has far as I can make out the band Mammoth were put together by guitarist Wes Thrailkill around 2011 and in January of 2012 they released an EP entitled Shapeless. Since then the band have gone through quite a few line-up changes regarding the bass players and drummers but have always maintained to be a 3 piece outfit.
Since the release of their first EP back in 2012 they have released a further 2 EP’s and 3 albums plus a compilation album and have built up quite a following. They certainly appear to be more popular judging by the sales of their 3rd album to date Deviations which was released last year, and appear to be having more success with their current line-up who are as follows:
Wes Thrailkill: Guitars.
Yasutaka Nomura: Bass.
Aliyar Kinik: Drums.
Although this is in fact the line-up that played on the album Deviations judging by this superb live performance of the albums opening track they played in September this year. They either have a new drummer by the name of Lang Zhao or he was filling in the spot on the drums at this gig.
Mammoth Live at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago 23rd September 2017.
No doubt the band can play and you need to be able to as well to be able to perform as good as this and play complex music at this level. They really area force and are excellent musicians. I would certainly pay to see them live and wish they lived a lot nearer on that score.
Deviations Album In Review…
Mammoth’s 3rd album release Deviations was released on the 21st October 2016. It’s their latest studio album and 6th release not counting their compilation album. The album contains 7 instrumental tracks and has a very respectable playing time of just over the 41 minute mark by a few seconds. The bands musical style reminds me a bit like the 70’s English band Brand X in that it’s along the lines of progressive rock and jazz fusion. Only Mammoth perhaps have a more modern approach to it all.
Though I would say that more modern approach is more derived from the keyboards that have been added in the studio. They tend to be more ambient and simplistic in the way they are just supported by a chord here and there, and nothing as complex like a more skilled keyboard player such has Robin Lumley would lend to the band Brand X on that score.
But overall the keyboards used on the album do a good enough job and I certainly could not take anything away from the 3 piece band that lies beneath it, and they are all very skilled musicians who have great timing and are a very close nit 3 piece band who can even take their skills to the stage and put on a superb live performance.
Besides the 3 main musicians of the band. The album Deviations also features a few guest musicians who play on a couple of the tracks. One of them is even their former bass player Chase Bryant who dropped in to play a bass solo on the 4th track. Mateus Asato who has also featured for the band in the way of having a guest spot on some of their previous albums, also contributes a guitar solo on the same track and Ben Luria plays some sax on the 2nd track of the album.
So now let’s take a look at the 7 tracks on the album and I will try my best to describe what we have here.
Track 1. Entanglements.
The opening track is one of the 4 lengthier tracks on the album. It’s title very much fits the music we have here like a glove, with its many twists in the way the music has been structured. It consists of short spasm bursts projecting from Wes Thrailkill’s guitar with interchanging short melody lines. It’s very complex and runs in many directions and shows great diversity and progression.
To be honest for even the bass player to follow some of these guitar lines it’s got to be one hell of a task, and you will very much need a bass guitarist who can play on the same level of the guitarist. And for my money Yasutaka Nomura does an extremely superb job in keeping up with it all and really does the business on this track too. The interplay between the guitar and bass is purely magic.
There is no doubt you also need a drummer of equal stature to keep everything in place here, and Aliyar Kinik fits the bill perfectly.
“Entanglements” is one hell of a superb piece of music that is very well put together with not just it’s magical short burst spasms from how it all opens up, but the way it also contains more heavier power chord changes verging on metal in parts, and it even contains some more sweeter smoother come down melodies with the rhythm guitar and a sweet bass solo along its path. It’s very much one of the highest contenders for the top spot on the album.
Track 2. Obscurements.
More twists and turns are contained in the longest track on the album which is entitled “Obscurements“. This 10 minute epic goes down more roads than what you would probably find in my city :))))). It’s a track that not only features Ben Luria playing some well good sax that works very well with the piece, but even the bands drummer Aliyar Kinik is on a roll here too.
There is once again some excellent interplay in some of the sections on this great track, and it’s not until we are into the 2nd half of it all that Ben’s sax comes into play adding a jazzy vibe to it all. The track does tend to wind down at the 7:40 mark and fizzles its way out so to speak. But this is another great track and one that is also in contention to have a stab at being a contender for the top spot.
Track 3. The Hilarity of Singularity.
One of the shorter tracks on the album and one that is perhaps more of a modern approach and something they perhaps seen as an attempt to make a single so to speak. They even included the sound of the needle being placed on the record. Which is very much another gimmick associated with modern pop music.
The track is very much constructed from the sound of a Clav playing some sort of frenzy. It also contains some ridiculous voice over that sounds like something from the television. The bass and drums are perhaps the best thing about it all, and I rather think this track lets the album down a bit on that score. It’s just too much of a mishmash and not my thing I am afraid.
Track 4. The Acclimation of Sedation.
A rather strange title but never the less I quite like it. I have to say the band are very much back on par with this piece and musically it has to be the best written piece on the album. This one very much merits the top spot award on the album and is my favourite track.
Once again we get some superb short spasms with the interchanging melody lines and then it settles into more of a jazz fusion mode with some really gorgeous well written melody lines. The piece features a gorgeous bass solo from the bands former bass player Chase Bryant that comes into play at the 1;50 mark and around the 3:03 mark Mateus Asato contributes his guitar solo in one of the most gorgeous sections of the piece.
No doubt this is a class piece and a very well structured piece of work. There is some really superb precision from all the band here and it’s up there with many other superb bands that have this passion and flare for fusing jazz into their music. Though I would of liked a better ending rather than the voice over thingy. But that is hardly enough to spoil the beauty here at all.
Tracks 5,6, & 7. Limited Access To The One/Deviant/Unlimited Access To None.
Although the 5th track may seem like another short track on the album, it’s very much the 1st part of a 3 piece suite with how all the final 3 tracks are blended into one another like one track. “Limited Access To The One” kicks the whole thing off with an ambient keyboard intro that has a bit of a sense of tension and dramatics about it, with how it builds up.
The intro is only short and all of 42 seconds then in comes the heavier guitars thrusting more power into the piece. Its a very well worked out piece and the band are once again playing around a section of short quick bursts of power chords. It’s what I would call the more rockier section of the piece and it’s a very well structured piece.
The 2nd part of the suite is the albums title track “Deviations” and I must admit why they chose this piece for the title of the album is a bit bizarre, especially as it’s sandwiched in between two tracks that have a connection with the titles they gave to tracks 5 and 7.
“Deviations” is the shortest section of the suite and is the more ambient softer section too. It starts off with a series of repeating harmonics on the guitar and is built up with the use of the keyboards more than anything thing else. The bass and drums play very little in this piece to be honest, but what little part they do play works quite well.
The final section of the suite “Unlimited Access To None” is the longest part of the 3 here. It has more of a jazzy flavour about it and is my favourite part of it. You can also get to hear how it’s very much a sister to the 1st part with how it falls back into it by playing an encore of it towards the end. I think they have combined all 3 parts of it very well and it winds up the whole album very well.
Well I have never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth so to speak and since receiving the album Deviations by Mammoth has a treat for my birthday from my good friend. I have give it that many spins now I have lost count. But as with any album I review I do tend to give them at least 7 complete spins before writing any review. I would say that before I wrote my review here, the album got double that amount of spins.
Furthermore I went on Bandcamp to investigate the bands music further and gave all their albums a complete spin. Having done so I can tell you that the band Mammoth have certainly come on a long way over the past couple of years, and in many ways have changed their style a bit to include a touch of jazz fusion to it, and they tended to have more of rock approach earlier on, and some their material even reminded me of a bit like Joe Satriani.
In some ways listening to their earlier material I get the sense that the guitarist Wes Thrailkill may have been influenced by Satriani. Though there is no doubt that since the release of their 2015 album Innate I would say that he has found more of his own style and come along in leaps and bounds.
Today the band Mammoth sound more like a modern day version of Brand X but they have put their own stamp on the music they are now presenting to you and I personally find it way better than any of their releases before 2015. Though their debut album is quite a good album I will say, but it’s perhaps not as well produced.
To sum up the album Deviations by Mammoth it’s quite an enjoyable album and one I can sit with and appreciate the material that was written for it. I would not say it’s a solid album though, but then again that is perhaps down to my own preferable taste.
For example I am not so fond of the keyboard work on some of the tracks. Though I can see why they decided to use them perhaps. I have a couple of other gripes as well especially with the 3rd track on the album.
I also think their previous album Innate is a much stronger and solid album that works that much better for not having any keyboards. I personally think it’s their best album and one I had to buy myself cause it’s that good.
To conclude my review of the band Mammoth and their latest album to date Deviations. I would say that the 3 piece band are really class musicians who have done their homework and learned their instruments very well and put in the time. They are without a doubt highly skilled, and to be able to perform the music they create so well on the stage, they really are a force to be reckoned with and a super band.
Deviations may not be quite on par with their previous album, but never the less it’s still a very well crafted album and at its price point it’s a steal. The highlights for me are the tracks “Entanglements“. “Obscurements“. “The Acclimation of Sedation” and the final part of the long suite “Unlimited Access To None“.
It’s easy to see why the band Mammoth have quite a following, and to even be able to go out and support bands like Haken who are another superb prog rock band. You have to have that something special about you. And Mammoth certainly do.
Check it out for yourself. It may just be what you was looking for…
You can listen to or grab your own personal copy of Deviations here : https://mammothprog.bandcamp.com/album/deviations
The album track listing is as follows:
01. Entanglements. 8:03.
02. Obscurements. 10:00.
03. The Hilarity of Singularity. 2:56.
04. The Acclimation of Sedation. 6:31.
05. Limited Access To The One. 3:26.
06. Deviations. 2:24.
07. Unlimited Access To None. 7:44.
Lee’s Album Rating Score. 8/10.