Mammatus The Coast Explodes (Holy Mountain) Release date: April 23, 2007
Curb Your Cynicism is a recurring blogtastic feature in which the music editor pithily enthuses about new releases and reissues he thinks will enhance your life and erode your cynicism about the state of music, circa now.
A quintet out of Corralitos, California (no, me neither), Mammatus wrestle with the legacy of Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, and other progenitors of heavy, brain-glazing rock loco-motion. Plenty of intelligent longhairs trudge down this Orange Amp-strewn path, many doing no more than paying homage while adding nothing new to the style. Mammatus can't in good conscience be called innovative in this regard, but they do extrapolate on some of the elements laid down by space rock and heavy metal's pioneers.
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Their sophomore album, The Coast Explodes, often curlicues into baroque passages of quasi-classical grandeur with enough panache to straighten Brian May's hair. On "The Changing Wind," Mammatus deviate from their norm with a sparse, Wicker Man-like folk ramble featuring pennywhistle (or is it a recorder?), acoustic guitar, and hand percussion. It works surprisingly well, whether you're into Tolkien or tokin'. This softer, subtler tack—compared to that of Mammatus' self-titled debut—still casts a potent, eldritch spell. The title track combines this mellower drift with the debut album's sprawling guitar/bass girth, attaining an expansive, spiritual aura that is usually beyond the grasp of those who throw devil horns unironically. With The Coast Explodes, Mammatus, like labelmates Om, show that ultra-heavy cats can ascend to a higher level of consciousness—bong-assisted or not.