Mother Eel - Svalbard

Mother Eel is an Australian band formed in 2003. After several EPs and live albums, this is their first full length coming out in 2019! They entitled the album "Svalbard". Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, constituting the northernmost part of Norway. Thus, what I expect to listen to here is something icy cold.

The first song is 'Sucking To Gain'. Noise and a groovy downtuned Hellhammer/early Sepultura riff breaks out. The vocals are distorted. The atmosphere is chaotic. Hidden melodies do exist under tones of distortion in what should be called sludge/doom metal with an avant-garde touch. Mother Eel songs are mixed with noise. They purposely avoid pausing between the songs, which offers a live sound feel to the album.

The second song 'Erection Of Pain''s opening clean guitar chords are laid over a noise carpet coming from the ending of 'Sucking To Gain'. The riff is what Max Cavalera worships; A Black Sabbath/ Hellhammer bastard spawn. Everything is and sounds primitive. The song structures, the songwriting itself, the production, everything. The fast parts of the song are chaotic in a manner resembling bands like Blasphemy and Proclamation (imagine a mixture of grindcore and black metal). The repeated riffing (in my opinion) unnecessarily extends the song to almost 8 minutes.

Radio signals/white noise and feedback collages again and 'Alpha Woman' is the next track. The drums are minimalistic. The guitar tries to be synchronized to a riff, but without making it before the second minute of the song. The screams create an abyssic/chaotic atmosphere (the band has many vocalists), and although this is really interesting, I still lack something in the sound. Maybe if the bass was higher in the mix and/or some synth passages were added, it would have been more interesting for me. The repetitive themes make you kneel again in a 6 minute song.

Next song is 'Listen To The Elderly For They Have Much To Teach'. The title is catchy and Mother Eel continue their routine of a 2 minute noise intro and then a sludge riff. At this point "Svalbard" starts getting a bit boring to my ears. It's like you know what to expect. The song climbs up to 9:45 minutes which are too many to avoid repetition.

The last song is 'Not My Shade' and it circles around the same patterns. The basic riff is Sepultura "Roots" era oriented (so Black Sabbath and Hellhammer are present again).

In conclusion, I think "Svalbard" will appeal to fans of sludge, drone, primitive death and black metal and experimental music. It is a good release. However, I would love to listen to some alternative ideas in their orchestration. Maybe additional bass, synths or weird instruments would have made an amazing avant-garde album. For this time the songs were unnecessarily long enough and at times made me lose interest. I am looking forward for their next attack!


1. Sucking To Gain
2. Erection Of Pain
3. Alpha Woman
4. Listen To The Elderly For They Have Much To Teach
5. Not My Shade

Self released
Reviewer: Manos Michaelides
Jul 23, 2019

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