Mistress Maria - Psycho.Mellow.Dramatic
Record Label: Ignite Records
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Psycho.Mellow.Dramatic is the debut EP from 5-piece Puerto Rican band Mistress Maria. A product of the recent deal with Ignite Records, this EP spans six tracks, two of which function as an introduction and finale, leaving four tracks proper of the band’s own particular brand of hardcore and metal.
The opening track ‘Psychomelodramatic’ immediately showcases the band’s love for spasmodic rhythms and time changes, reminiscent of technical metal bands such as The Bled and Architects. These time changes and choppy rhythms are a nice idea, but for the most part these sections fail to hit the mark. The syncopation between the rhythm section and guitars are not quite clean enough, which results in the time changes sounding sloppy and unaccomplished. The vocals however are a source of strength for the band, demonstrating a variety of tones from guttural screams, to throaty yells and cleanly sung sections. This helps to prevent the vocals becoming monotonous and predictable.
The finish on the EP is rather rough, making the record sound like a low budget production. Given that this is a debut offering, this is not unexpected and in many ways serves to keep the heavy elements of the band’s sound feeling raw and energetic. However, this stripped back production value emphasises those instances where the transitions between sections are not quite tight enough.
What is apparent throughout this short EP is that the band does not want to be held to one particular style. ‘Psychomelodramatic’ delivers a technical hardcore sound, before transitioning into the stand-out ‘We’ve Got the Volcano’ which feels more like an accomplished post-hardcore track, featuring clean vocal choruses and a quicker tempo. ‘What Ever Happened to Heath Ledger’ embarks on a separate tangent, with the mid-section traversing through a classic metal sequence that wouldn’t sound out of place on Metallica’s latest offering Death Magnetic. The closing track ‘Cocaine and Waffles’ takes yet another departure in style, as the end section moves into an ambient, atmospheric clean section that segues nicely into the EP’s outro.
Whilst such variety in styles would be refreshing to hear on a full length album by an already established act, it has a somewhat alienating effect on a début EP. Generally the purpose of such a release is to generate interest in a band that, in its infant stages, is relatively unknown. This record should be the bait that tempts a new audience then gets them hooked; waiting for a follow up record. However, it is difficult to know whether the bait is palatable when it is unclear what the flavour is. Mistress Maria have attempted to fuse together various styles and influences and as such there lacks a unifying thread that holds everything together. By the close of the record it is still unclear who Mistress Maria are as a band and as such what one would expect from a full album’s worth of songs.
To the band’s credit, the EP is raw, aggressive and full of energy and when the fitful dynamics work, they do so to good effect. ‘We are the Volcano’ is a fine example of the band successfully executing their ideas. It is clear that the band are not short of creativity, or indeed ability, but between now and the creation of a full length album, there needs to be a refinement of these ideas into a unifying theme that defines the band’s sound. If Mistress Maria can hone their creativity in such a way, a full length album would be well worth a listen.