Sunday, April 8, 2018

Review of Mary Beats Jane's "Locust"

I dropped this review about an hour ago on the Sputnik Music website. It was written as part of a random album review contest. (Well, maybe "contest" is the wrong word. Nobody wins any prizes or anything). Anyway, I submitted the album Door to Door by The Cars, which another User reviewed, and I got this one. So without further ado:


Review Summary: An allegedly metal album for non-metal fans, featuring cannibalism (maybe), and the musical stylings of Tool.

Mary Beats Jane was a Swedish band active through the mid-1990s. Their most famous member was Peter Dolving, the vocalist, who later garnered some acclaim in The Haunted, a well-respected thrash metal band with whom he was active for most of the first decade of this century. (Dolving is currently the lead singer for IAmFire, a Copenhagen-based heavy rock collective.) For their part, Mary Beats Jane only ever released two full-length studio LPs, their self-titled debut in 1994, and this one, in 1997. Why they then broke up is unknown, but Holving has been quoted as saying that MBJ will never re-form, so it must have been for a serious reason. I like to think it was something to do with cannibalism, but I can't prove it.

In any event, I had a problem with reviewing this album, namely this: I'm not a metal guy. It's not like I've never listened to metal, or metal-tinged, bands. But honestly, it's far from my favorite genre, and it's way outside of my realm of expertise. So I pondered the predicament -- how can I review this LP in a way that does it justice? In the end, I figured that the fairest thing to do was to not only describe what I hear in the album, but also to give an overview of what others have said about it and where they might be coming from. I also did a little research by listening to the band's first LP, and also by listening to a Haunted LP, for context. 

What I learned was this: I'm still not a metal guy. I didn't like the Haunted album at all, nor did I like MBJ's inaugural LP. However, weirdly enough, I did like Locust. Here's the reason -- Locust isn't really a metal LP, at least not in the classic sense. The Haunted LP was very heavy, as was the MBJ debut. Locust, on the other hand, definitely rocks at times, but it's clearly not thrash metal. Instead, what I hear in this album is a band who sounds very like Tool. I mean very like them. I won't claim to be a Tool expert, but if I heard most of Locust on the radio, or a friend played it for me, I'd be like, "Tool, right?" In fact, it sounds so much like Tool to me that I'd have to assume that the band was attempting to deliberately make an album that sounded just like Tool, but with maybe just a smidgen of Nine Inch Nails thrown into the mix. Come to think of it, maybe cannibalism wasn't the reason that the band broke up. Maybe it was more like half of the band wanted to go back to thrash metal, and the other half of the band was like, "No, let's make more albums that sound like Tool," and finally Peter Dolving was like, "You know what, eff you guys! I just got asked to join The Haunted, so I'm out of here." Maybe. Possibly. (Pause.) Seriously, though, it was probably cannibalism.

Anyway, it's not like there are a ton of ratings or reviews for this album out there, (at least not in the American internet realms), but after checking Sputnik, Amazon, AllMusic and RYM, the conclusion I came to was this -- real metal fans tend to hate this album, while more casual fans of the genre consider this to be a quality LP, and tend to rate it pretty highly. Also, the general consensus, which I agree with, is that the biggest weakness of the album is it tends to lose a little energy towards the end. 

To my way of thinking, the best three tracks on the album are "Blackeye", the second track, which is fast and very Tool-like; "Pure", the 3rd track, which is pretty heavy, and features an unusual time signature; and "Dog Relish", the fifth track, which sounds a little more influenced by Led Zeppelin. There are two other songs that I especially enjoyed, but they're two of the ones that most inclined classic metal lovers to want to blow their own brains out. These are: "Fall", a quieter number with strummed guitars that even throws in some vocal harmonies for good measure; and "Cradlewake," an eerie song that features a high-pitched, slow guitar line that feels like worms eating through your brain. Oh, and it kind of reminded me of Tool.

So to summarize what I heard in Mary Beats Jane's Locust: Tool. Cannibalism (perhaps). Traces of NIN and Zeppelin. And lots of metal-tinged music that many (most) true metal fans will hate, but other rock fans will probably appreciate.


Rating: 3 of 5 stars