Friday 4 November 2022

Mauser - Más Fuerte Que la Muerte (2022)

Country: Peru
Style: Hard and Heavy
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 18 Oct 2022
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I'm liking a lot of what I'm hearing come out of Peru nowadays, because it's consistently good and because it arrives in greater quantities than it does from other South American countries except for Brazil and Argentina, both of which are far larger. What's more, I'm not discerning any overtly Peruvian sound, so these bands tend to surprise by how different they are from each other, as they do from Finland and Greece too.

Mauser are merely the latest Peruvian band to show up on my radar, but they sound very good to me. They hail from Miraflores, which is a district of the capital Lima, and they're on the hard rock side of the boundary with heavy metal, even though they do cross it. This is an all important third album for them, following a self-titled debut in 2014 and a follow up, El fin, in 2019, which I believe means The End and thankfully wasn't.

I like their sound best when it's at its heaviest, which means a sort of early Dio sound, if you recall the stormers that he tended to start his albums with, songs like Stand Up and Shout and We Rock that were his most metal. That often happens early in songs here, including the title track, Voces and Llevas Dentro. Not all of them remain that heavy, which is fine because Mauser shift between genres well, but they do the urgent parts even better. What's odd is that vocalist Alex Rojas, who's clearly been listening to Dio for a long time, doesn't imitate him too often, though there are parts where it's unmistakable, especially in his sustains and in his phrasing at the end of Hey!, which is a combination of Dio and Chris Cornell.

Hey! is a great example to throw in here, because it fits seamlessly within Mauser's general sound but takes it in another new direction. This is a looser, bluesier song from the outset and it includes a stellar guitar solo from César Gonzáles that's hinted at in the opening. It's Gonzáles who may be most responsible for the variety here, because what tone his guitar has on a particular track is the most important element of flavour. Much of his influence seems to be from the eighties and I have no doubt that he's a Vivian Campbell fan, but there's plenty of nineties here too, as the grungier and groovier aspects of the title track suggest.

In fact, those two styles merge there, when the atmosphere of Cruces, the intro to both that song and the album as a whole, shifts into song proper. Initially, it's that Campbellian sound, playful and elegant. Then the title track kicks in almost like a melodic thrash song, as if Campbell had handed over to Alex Skolnick. And then, just to keep us on the hop, it shifts into groove metal, albeit firmly on the hard rock side of the fence, so making us think grunge. It's a very nineties sound built on an eighties base with some nods back to the seventies too.

While I automatically respond to those urgent songs, I think my favourite here is Explotaré, which is hard to define too, because it adds prog into the mix. It's initially accessible hard rock, the firm confident vocals of Alex Rojas leading the way but also in conversation with Gonzáles's guitar. But, right before the first minute is up, it drops tantalisingly into acoustic mode, only to power back up in a Nirvana-esque transition. The same thing happens again a minute later and then further into the song at greater length, because the acoustic side takes us home instead of transitioning back up again. It segues well into the piano and rain of Hey! too.

In other words, there's a lot here and the particular ways by which it's mixed sound like they might be unique to Mauser. To me, that's an automatic recommendation. I like bands who sound only like themselves, even if I can spot obvious influences here and there. Mauser kept me on the hop and I liked that a lot. Now I should track down their first two albums.

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