Temporal Rifts by Cities of Mars

Release date: September 29, 2017
Label: Argonauta Records

I’m not going to lie, I was looking forward to this first full length of Cities of Mars. Having seen them play at Northern Discomfort as a replacement for Ghost of Wem, I was disappointed that there was no full length available from these cosmic doomsters. Now, with Temporal Rifts, there is.

The trio from Gothenburg released a single and an EP in the past. This is all part of a story, the saga of the Cities of Mars; in this story a KGB cosmonaut named Nadia lands on Mars on a covert mission in 1971 only to disappear into the misty depths of an ancient conspiracy. You got to love your concepts, right? Esben Willems from Monolord recorded this record in the Berserk Studio. He also worked with the group on previous releases and particularly the EP Celestial Mistress turned out to be a fine piece of work.

The sludgy intro lures us towards that final frontier of outer space. ‘Doors of Dark Matter, Pt. 1: Barriers’ demonstrates how heavy and big these guys can sound. With that specific clean yet massive sound of Cities of Mars, there’s instantly that floating feeling of being in the void. The vocals of either Danne Palm or Christoffer Norén (the bass player and guitar player) remind me a lot of that John Baizley roar from Baroness, particularly around the two minute mark. It helps to create that cavernous sound a band like this needs with a slight minor tone. Its melody cuts deep and for me immediately carries a lot of emotional force for the listener. A great start of this record.

‘Envoy of Murder’ offers a new nugget in the story. On the Obelisk is written that this song takes place in 3251 BC. A devastating civil war rages on the planet and a mad scientist has created an absolute horror solution of biomechanical spiders. This story gets more exciting by the minute and this song really hits you hard. The weary, mournful sound is thick on this one, but on ‘Gula, a Bitter Embrace’ we pick up the pace again. The guitar riffs flow easily during the chorus, giving off a nautical feel this time. There’s an ease to the sound, a casual way in which it moves. The pounding drums and heavy riffs are massive, but never just crash down. Every note sings, every pluck of a guitar string melts into the next and even the roaring vocals find harmony with the instruments.

What’s peculiar, is that Cities of Mars sounds a bit psychedelic and is therefore easy to slide into. This is contrasted by the bleak lyrics and heavy material, like ‘Children of the Red Sea’. This tune gets a bit more fierce towards the end though, with its cascading riffs. Here we get really heavy with the Swedes, being dragged along through their dark and foreboding cosmos. The same goes for ‘Caverns Alive!’ by the way, another track that has little left of the smooth sailing earlier on the album, but brings that guitar work to just nod away with. Cities of Mars here starts to remind the listener more of Sleep with some Mastodon, which I think is the best comparison for this whole album as the two main ingredients. This record is awesome.

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