Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Mount Mary - Mount Mary (2021)

Country: Finland
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 29 Jan 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Here's another band I discovered through the excellent Raised on Rock radio show back in the UK and many thanks to Chris Franklin for that and getting the album over to me. It's a debut album, even if it doesn't remotely sound like one, and the style stretches from rock to hard rock with mainstays such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath as the obvious influences. Mean Old Woman thrives on that Zeppelin swagger and October gets notably down and doomy like Sabbath, but those influences remain in play throughout.

It's the others that interest me most and they're a lot more elusive. I'm Like a Mountain, for instance, is a patient old rock song, in affinity with its title, one that feels like we ought to have been listening to it for about four decades. Spine Made Out of Willow is gloriously loose, again in accordance with a neatly descriptive title. It bends here and there but always moves to its own tune, in ways that sound familiar but aren't easily grasped. Mount Mary songs don't sound at all like Bad Company or Budgie or Grand Funk or whatever other bands might leap into mind here and there, but they sound as if the timeframe is right and they jammed with all of them.

And that's across the different elements that make up the band. Maria Hänninen is an old school rock singer with a background that's as much soul and blues as it is rock, more Janis Joplin or Tina Turner than Pat Benatar or Stevie Nicks. She sounds like she would absolutely tear the roof off a small club, a song like Holy Matrimony perfect for a blues night or a rock night, especially with a guest harmonica from Michael Monroe. Petri Majuri's guitar has a little southern sassiness to it, again rooted in blues rock but moving into some Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The band are tight throughout but they occasionally find a magic groove, like they do on Ode to the Forest, that becomes like every band we've ever heard at once. It's Deep Purple and the Scorpions and the Black Crowes and it seeps into our soul. Those are the most timeless chord changes ever and this song feels like it should just become the soundtrack to our lives. In fact, it feels somehow like it's been that all along, even though we haven't noticed until now.

The other strange factor to Ode to the Forest is that it feels slower than it ought to be and that feeling rolls into the eight minute epic that is Footprints in the Dark. Even when it gets sassy to sound like a belly dance and what I believe is a clarinet performed by bassist Jukka Jylli seduces us like a snake charmer, it's achingly slow and the whole world around us slows down to match Otto Haapanen's drums. I swear my heartbeat was slower at the end of this album than it was at the beginning, which is an odd feeling to have on a rock album.

I like this band. I'm not sure they bring anything new to the table at all but they mix up what they do bring in fantastic ways. Mount Mary's Bandcamp page states neatly that the band members have been "cooked in many musical broths" and that's a poetic but very true way to put it. I'd love to know more about their individual influences, but each musician helps channels them into something new that I'd enjoyed immensely on a first listen and which only got better.

Mount Mary sound to me like the sort of band you stumble onto during a roadtrip that ends up akin to a dream. You stop in some tiny burg in the middle of nowhere for the night and, with nothing else to do, you wander into the local bar for a meal and a beer and find this band tearing up the stage. The locals are enjoying quietly because they've seen them a hundred times, but they're playing their socks off anyway. And they blow you away. But, the next day, as you cross another state line, you realise that you never found out what their name was, so the experience takes on a dreamlike quality. And you tell people about them for the next couple of decades anyway. Dude, there was this band...

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