The CHAINMAIL section reviews bands that were proactive enough to e-mail me directly. Here at Cerebral Metalhead, initiative is rewarded.
Last weekend I was in Portland, Oregon at the apex of the snowiest winter the city had seen in decades. The city's palette of greens, reds and browns were muted into the grey and white of winter slush. Normally this kind of weather traps spirits under ice, but somehow Portland's post-hippie, utopian character (no sales tax! theater pubs! anarchists, yuppies, naturalists and stoners commingling!) was preserved. Families drove miles into the suburbs to find hills suitable for sledding. A stranger helped my friend put snow chains on his tires in near-freezing weather. A vegan/anarchist coffee shop stayed open late to accommodate a local singer/songwriter, even as every other business in the neighborhood shut down. I was offered herb by a guy I met just an hour before.
Portland's Mongoloid Village gets that only-frosty-on-the-outside-and-prolly-a-little-high vibe down perfectly on its excellent debut EP. While there's all manner of riff grooviness thundering down throughout these five tracks like a particularly unforgiving winter (check the rhythmic crosswinds of "Shittown, U.S.A.," which careens between primo biker metal, loaded psych jams and proggified Toolisms), there's just as much spectral stargazing as there is aggro metal. Mongoloid Village doesn't quite reach Torche levels of life affirmation, but I get the sense that the band isn't nearly all as mean-spirited as its lyrics would suggest. Especially at the end of "Crib Death #3," during which a person as trashed as I wish I was right now could surely apprehend god.
The more taxonomically rigid metal listener might seize on the charismatic singer's glazed vocals or the occasional Weedeater break and conclude that Mongoloid Village is a stoner metal band. Don't you make that same mistake. Drugs inform only a small segment of Mongoloid Village's diverse sound, which also comprises Jesus Lizard jitters (the opening lick in "The Choking Game" would make Duane Denison proud) and the space-rock of Jupiter-era Cave-In ("El Ron"). It's all smartly synthesized into dynamic songs that go places and never overstay their welcome. Time signatures change when they need to. Arrangements expand and contract sensibly. Call it prog without the pretense. Volcom, Meteor City, Kemado: are you listening? SIGN THIS BAND.
There's a picture of a half-nekkid chick with huge boobies at Mongoloid Village's MySpace page