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EP Review: Mammoth Temple – We’re Not Extinct

One of the things that I have always prided this website on is bringing you new bands from around the UK and specifically from the Midlands. (It’s where I’m from so I can be a little biased in this respect) So in that vein I would like to introduce you to an intriguing new addition to the grunge/rock/alternative scene; Mammoth Temple.

I’m always a little wary when music is described to me as ‘90’s Grunge’ or something in that style because that normally means that whatever I’m about to hear just sounds like a Nirvana knock off. In short, I go in with low expectations and much like a midget in a high jump competition, clearing that bar is but a distant dream. However, as a wise man once said (Probably) there are exceptions to every rule, and Mammoth Temple are one of those exceptions.

We’re Not Extinct is the band’s debut release and by any measure it is a hugely impressive and encouraging debut.

If you want to know what this band are all about then look no further than the EP’s opening track Meat Production. The guitars are grungy yet crisp and provide the driving force behind the band’s sound. The vocals by contrast are quite flat and almost quite monotone in places. None of that is a criticism by the way, although I know it may sound like one. My point is that front man Dave sounds like result of Jarvis Cocker spending his formative years in 80’s Seattle instead of 70’s Sheffield. The guitar solo which heads the track towards its conclusion is also a real highlight. I’m a sucker for a good guitar solo, and this offering from resident axeman Lewis shows him to be a fine exponent of the art.

Wiping Out sees the band change tact slightly with a much more melancholic opening and restrained feel. That’s until the guitars fully crunch into view, grabbing you by the unmentionables. The track’s overall sound is just the right amount of abrasive without being overbearing and ‘edgy’ for no reason.

Following effort Reflections while also lulling you in before taking your face off is a far more epic affair. It’s first half is quite brooding, almost Blues-y and most fitting of its title.

The mirror in which we look will never be our best friend.

All of this completely changes at halfway as the song fires into top gear. Throughout, you’re given a few teases so when the song finally bursts into life it’s seriously satisfying. Again, the guitar solo is frankly majestic.

Penultimate track Promises once more encapsulates the band’s sound really well in that it retains that grungy feel without feeling dated. Of course, it harks back to that late 80’s/early 90’s golden era but at the same time it isn’t just a cheap imitation, it’s still something new and fresh.

How We Are is another 5 minute plus effort and while it does take a little while to really get into its stride the end result is another ear cruncher of a tune. Big guitars, crashing drums and thundering basslines are very much the order of the day as the record goes out with a bang. It feels like the song is used as the EP’s final shot across the bows so as to leave a lasting impression. It holds your attention to the very last.

As I said at the outset We’re Not Extinct is mightily encouraging debut. Although I must confess that it took me a little to really get into it. I didn’t really click with it straight away, but it grew on me more and more with every listen. Grunge/alternative records aren’t often renowned for their groove but the way that the bass and drums combine, is in places almost Black Sabbath-esque. On the negative side the EP could be viewed as a little samey and some of the songs are almost a little too clean and precise. In places I’d maybe have preferred things to be a little rougher around the edges. But those minor quibbles aside, there is certainly plenty of potential here. Keep a look out for these guys there could be a hell of a lot more to come.

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