Album Review :
Mouth of the South - Transparency

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Transparency by Mouth of the South

Artist: Mouth of the South
Title: Transparency
Label: Independent
Release Date: 07/02/2013
Reviewer: Ty DeLong

Tracklisting:

  1. Prologue
  2. Uprooted
  3. Selfless
  4. Whanau
  5. Monologue
  6. Part 2
  7. Riddance
  8. Convictions
  9. Epilogue
  10. Nothin But the Blood

Mouth of the South is a veteran metalcore band that has been around in some form since 2007.  Their latest full-length, Transparency delivers relentless instrumentation, powerful vocals, and personal lyrics without straying too far from the genre’s norms.

“Prologue” opens with droning, dissonant guitar before vocalist Josiah comes in roaring “This is my grave / This is my gate / This is a gun to my head / This is my long walk home from hell / This is my death bed.”  A sludgy breakdown follows, the first of several on the album.  The song concludes with lyrics of killing one’s flesh, bringing the metaphor into full light and setting the tone for the songs to come.

Much of the first half of the album is characterized by heavy, dirty metalcore riffs executed with precision.  Blast and punk beats occasionally break in to increase the pace of songs, which are generally mid-tempo.  One of my favorite aspects is the slight sense of “groove” that some of the breakdowns and guitar licks have.  More than once I found my head unintentionally bobbing along to the music.  The drumming is powerful with a few stand-out fills and breakdowns showcasing Kane’s skill.  The all-screaming vocals are strong and never strained.  Several passages reminded me of Oh, Sleeper, which is not a bad thing.  There isn’t much in the way of lead guitar compared to some other flavors of the genre, but trills, squeals, other high notes occasionally break through the river of thick, de-tuned guitars.

The band breaks into major key for the first time halfway through “Monologue.”  It’s feels like taking a quick breath before plunging back into the hammering, staccato breakdown that follows.  The rarity of such melodic sections makes them stand out, and I love the way it brings an air of triumph to the music, so I could have stood a few more of them.  “Monologue” continues tearing through growling riffs and lyrics questioning God before closing with the passionate plea, “I want to feel alive again / I want to love you like I once did.”

The latter half of the album begins with a fast-paced punk beat on “Part 2,” a great showcase of the band’s energy, before breaking into mid-tempo riffs. The final four songs exhibit more melody than the first few, proving that Mouth of the South is more than chugging breakdowns.  It makes for a strong second half of the record when combined with the already-present heaviness which carries through to the last note.

The main flow of the album concludes with the huge ending of “Epilogue.”  Three quarters through the song, the band breaks for a reverb-swelled interlude that builds up to a massive, driving finish.  Over a melodic wall of sound, Josiah screams:

When You called my name
My heart stopped and our pulse became the same
When You calmed my soul
I felt the earth shake and the mountains tremble
When You called my name
I finally came alive again
When You call me son
I feel Your blood in my veins and Your breath in my lungs
When You call my name

After the climax, forlorn clean guitar strums reverberate and fade into the distance, leaving the listener alone with the powerful closing words.  There is one final song, an acoustic version of “Nothin’ But the Blood.”  It feels more like a bonus track than an integrated part of the album, but it leaves no doubt who Mouth of the South is and what they stand for.

Production-wise, I found the album rock-solid.  The mix suits the songs well, and the performance is flawless.  I always appreciate when bands don’t over-produce or use studio effects just because they can.  With the exception of a few touches here and there, every second of the album could be pulled off in a live setting.  To some, this may be a drawback, but I respect the band’s decision to keep everything pure.  Initially the songs did sound quite similar to me, but the more I listened, the more I began to appreciate each track on its own.  The only things that could have made the album better, in my opinion, would be some shredding lead parts and a little more sonic variety, but I won’t fault the band for staying true to their sound, especially with such a passionate delivery.

Overall:  Mouth of the South delivers a hard-hitting metalcore record with Transparency, firing well on all cylinders.  Fans of the genre won’t find anything unexpected, but they may find another solid album for their collection, particularly if they enjoy personal lyrics and grooving riffs.

RIYL: Gideon, Fit For a King, As Hell Retreats, Oh, Sleeper

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