Thanks to the outstanding POEMA ARCANUS, Chile already has a good reputation in the Doom scene and when I had read in the info of MAR DE GRISES’ “The Tatterdemalion Express“ that this quintet also hails from this South American country, I was very interested. Just like TYRANNY released via Finland’s Doom specialists Firebox, “The Tatterdemalion Express“ is the first album after a demo in 2002.
But MAR DE GRISES by no means is the usual Doom, but the expression Progressive Doom Metal could not have been chosen any better as the gentlemen Marcelo Rodriguez (v, key), Rodrigo Morris (g), Sergio Alvarez (g), Rodrigo Galvez (b) and Alejandro Arce (dr) take Doom and enrich it with elements from Death Metal, Gothic Metal, Ambient, Classical and Progressive Metal and process it all into a pretty hard to digest dough, which might sound somewhat hostile when hearing for the first time and make it a hard access right up front.
Complex, hard to digest, damn heavy and also pretty original are the 56 minutes of this album, which takes the listener onto a demanding journey through the CD, which for sure is anything but boring. Building on a very melancholic/sad foundation, MAR DE GRISES form a wall of sound that is mighty, at times almost seemingly overwhelming, with heavy guitars, spheric keyboards and equally variable vocals, which reach from aggressively growled to tormented sounding spoken vocals and further underline the different hues of the compositions.
“The Tatterdemalion Express“ is an album that takes up all of your attention, the almost twelve minute opener “El Otro“ is a bulky chunk that almost blocks the access to this album and where you have to show the will to bite through, but once you manage that and give the album your full concentration, then the very complex compositions start to unfold more and more with each repeated listen, even though they at times get pretty damn abstract as on “To See Saturn Fall“ or “Be Welcome Oh Hideous Hell“. On the other hand the Chileans present us with an emotional piano instrumental titled „Self Portrait No. 1“, which forms a sort of breather and fits MAR DE GRISES as much as the closing “Onírica”, which is altogether a bit calmer (than the rest of the album) and more atmospheric, which both show us a slightly different side of the band.
The production by Marcelo Rodríguez and Rodrigo Gálvez is clear and powerful, just the way this sound needs it to be and the cover by Slaine is equally unusual and fascinating and rounds off the whole thing very nicely.
All in all “The Tatterdemalion Express“ definitely is not suited for everyone, even when you are Doom fans, try to check out the sound samples to see, if you are able to take on MAR DE GRISES, you have to be pretty hard boiled and invest some patience and will. Oh, and make sure that your razors, sleeping pills, knives, guns and poison bottles are far away and not openly in front of you on the table, because otherwise I won’t take any responsibility for what “The Tatterdemalion Express“ will do to you! (Online March 17, 2004)