Album Review: Antemasque

antemasqueOur Verdict: 4/5
Release date: 10th November
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Review by: Graeme Blackwell

Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala have long been the gate-keepers of all things spiky, angular and punkish. As the mainstays of both At The Drive In and The Mars Volta, they have consistently delivered a cerebral brand of rock that is as thrilling as it is thoughtful.

But for all their heavy squall, the pair have never lost sight of a strong melody and a dynamic hook. It’s this amalgam of serious musical skill combined with accessible songwriting that has stood them in such good stead and produced at least two albums in the past that could be considered out-and-out classics.

The fact that their debut LP as Antemasque is possibly the most accessible and least acerbic music they have made to date shouldn’t be considered a “bad thing.” This is still a slice of sonic chicanery that will hit you upside the head whilst tickling your ear and stroking your neck.

Across it’s comparatively short running time the album twists and turns, weaving in to its tapestry straight-ahead indie and alt-rock tropes, blues, some particularly funky bass, drums and guitar that wouldn’t sound out of place on Link Wray’s “Rumble”, and the occasional heady dose of psychedelia. At its most untamed, it’s sharp enough to slice your throat; at its most civilised, still highly likely to give you the shivers.

“Ride Like The Devil’s Son” is a particular highlight, all moody imagery, galloping tempo and gruff vocal, and no doubt Quentin Tarantino’s new favourite song for a future soundtrack. Likewise, “People Forget” is a hyperactive salvo of rough hewn rock n’ roll, with a rollicking refrain that “people tend to forget.” It’s a good job that Antemasque are here to remind us, then.

New single “In The Lurch” has been described by the band themselves as a mix of progressive rock and punk. It’s a simple but highly apt description and, the song having now been chosen by BBC Radio 1 Rock Show host Daniel P. Carter as his track of the week, one that is likely to see the song get maximum FM exposure. As with all the other tracks on the album, it’s helped in no uncertain terms by some skilful bass and drum chops from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ cornerstone Flea, and former Mars Volta sticksman Dave Elitch.

Ultimately a far cry from their post-hardcore outings in At The Drive In, or their intricate post-Prog wig-outs as The Mars Volta, Antemasque nevertheless ably demonstrates why Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala work so fabulously well together. You would currently be very hard pressed to find a better example of the hi-octane, torrid-yet-tuneful indie-punk rock so brilliantly displayed here.

Antemasque gets a worldwide release on the 10th of November. You can watch a live version of new single “In The Lurch” below.

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