Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dead and Loving It: Mindrot


Mindrot was one of the biggest gateway bands for me into the more extreme realms of heavy music, so it's difficult for me to differentiate whether these guys really were as good as I think or I'm just wickedly biased based on both their influence on me as well as my admitted lack of this kind of Death/Doom hybrid material in my own collection. For me, listening to Mindrot is an intensely cathartic happening as I feel they do an amazing job of conveying every negative emotion in the darker side of the human experience, as is the modus operandi for most bands in this genre, but maybe these guys hold a special place in the icy recesses of my heart because they just got to me first. In fact, in the search to fill the void left by their dismemberment in the late 90's I stumbled across a number of bands I still listen to and enjoy to this day including both Nile and Opeth, and while the elitists will shake their fingers at me in disgust as these bands seemingly hold nothing in common with Mindrot, I have no argument but being a slave to the tingly sensation my brain gets when it's exposed to intelligently epic and emotional songs played in the key of DESTROY.

And speaking of epic, Mindrot sounds it, which is astonishing to me given both the fact that these guys seemed a permanent fixture under the radar even in the underground scene (so where is the budget coming from?) as well as how well it holds up sonically today. I mean, there are parts of Mindrot's 1995 debut 'Dawning' as well as their (only) 1998 follow-up 'Soul' that sound as magnanimous as some of Behemoth's recent releases. A testament to producer Jim Barnes. But as my 6'8" primate of a boss Mark Angellotti would say back in my glory days of working at the local pool, 'you can't make chicken soup out of chicken shit', and it was the writing, dynamics, and palpable emotion in the music that was the weight that pulled you into the abyss.  The gutteral, grinding bass and monolithic wall of guitars is leveling. Throated growls piercing the wall of sound then breaking away into the quiet anguish of strummed clean chords and vocal despair, a dark beauty looming underneath it all, occasionally audible when the chaos breaks like the new rays of a dawning sun through winter clouds. I still get lost in and find myself welling up to the title track (and greatest intro to any album EVER) of their debut record 'Dawning'. Lord knows how many mix tapes I opened with that fucker between 1995 and 2008. Yeah, I was still making mix tapes in 2008 - hence my need to identify with despair in my music.

Mindrot released a few demos, an EP, and two full lengths before they all went their separate ways and began separate projects. Lead vocalist Adrian Leroux went on to do a short-lived project called Nascent and then sang on a Morgion album while percussionist Evan Killbourne became the drummer for Save Ferris. Guitarist Dan Kaufmann and bassist Matt Fischer went on to form Eyes Of Fire, which is truly the only project to feel like it rose out of the ashes of the incarnation that was Mindrot.  Much like Bloodsimple came out of Vision Of Disorder or Jesu from Godflesh - Eyes Of Fire toted a similar sonic palette in slightly more accessible song structures, while the anger, sadness and despair were all still present some songs had a lingering undertone of hope weaving in and out of them.  The most notable song for me being 'Home', which was released as a limited edition bonus CD on the group's sophomore album 'Prisons', a near 25 minute boil-over that start to finish could be likened to the sonic representation of a building being burnt to the ground, from incendiary flames to the raging inferno to the ashes of the end - a simple yet stunning piece I'd recommend closing your eyes to and letting it take you where it may. Unfortunately for me, though more than decent in it's own right, Eyes Of Fire's body of work still failed to reach the bar set by the two records Mindrot released.

So whether or not the die hard Winter and Evoken and Katatonia fans will agree with the merits I praise Mindrot with in their overall style of music, I still feel like they are a band worth knowing about that may have easily passed you by if you weren't looking for it or stumbled upon it the way I did. So next time you're feeling underneath it all go give it a listen, somewhere you can punch a tree or lay down and cry where nobody will see you. Or else you may find yourself all wrapped up in it and wiping tears of self-hatred and guilt from your face at the fitness center just as that hot girl you never stood a chance with comes walking in and gives you that look before quickly looking away.. "WHO YOU CALLIN' A PSYCHO?!!!"

Here are five of my faves from the aforementioned albums above:

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