The Stark Arctic

Spare Change Records 2008

Comprised of 6 tracks that explore different aspects of cyclopean doom, the debut album from Maegashira serves as a pounding yet mind expanding creation.  The Stark Arctic begins with Ongoing Corneal Erosion.  It is barren and dry with a hint of western influences, sort of like Earth at its most stripped down.  Caribou Crossing is a vastly different beast with a psychedelic feel and a myriad of vocal styles from beastly screams, death grunts, and hoarse shouted utterings.  The song has a real jam feel to it with loads of Sabbathy, 70s riffs emerging during the chorus.  Ammonia For Sweat once again shifts gears for repetitive minimalism and dreaming layered vocals that erupt into vile hatred and shouting.  The non-deathly vocals remind me of the vocalist from Mean Season.  On this 9 minute composition riffs recycle and repeat but the true magic occurs towards the song's last few precious minutes as feedback and guitar noise feed upon each other like starving zombies.  Baggage Claim doesn't do much for me compared to the rest of the songs on the album despite the fact it has the most energy and is filled with self-loathing.  I am going to assume that the dividing line between Baggage Claim and Skin Slip is the 4:35 mark because the song develops a completely different personality and reverts to a western style reminiscent of Earth.  This is my favorite part of the album.  A simple clean guitar with stripped-down, plodding drums and lethargic, subdued vocals.  The track then erupts like a dormant volcano as riffs of heated ash and vocals of liquid hot magma spew forth from the speakers.  The final track, Back to Muro is more transcendental Earth-isms and "maegalithic" riffs  that last for 22 minutes.  I am somewhat torn overall when viewing The Stark Arctic as I feel it may be a little too varied at times presenting somewhat of a split personality.  However as they are so adept at conceiving and conveying desolate moods within their songs that I must admit to being impressed by this album.