Artist: Mother Of All
Album Title: Age Of The Solipsist
Label: Black Lion Records
Date of Release: 23 April 2021
Black Lion Records is a label with which I am becoming ever more familiar. Ghosts Of Atlantis, Kvaen, and Maestitium are all artists that have recently released great albums on the Swedish label that’s gaining some serious traction as a result. Therefore, when presented with a new release billed as melodic, progressive death metal, with none other than Testament’s Steve Di Giorgio making an appearance as the guest bassist, I had to take a listen.
Mother Of All is, more accurately, a one-man project, spearheaded by the Dane Martin Haumann who most famously was the drummer for Myrkur and Afsky. Haumann however, has more strings to his bow than just the drums and has formed Mother Of All with the help of Di Giorgio and session guitarist Frederik Jensen. Together, they have presented the metal world with the debut album ‘Age of The Solipsist’, albeit some eight years after Mother Of All came into existence. With a mix courtesy of Hannes Grossmann (Hate Eternal) at Mordor Sounds and artwork courtesy of the renowned Travis Smith, ‘Age Of The Solipsis’ ticks all the boxes and offers up a tantalising proposition.
Unfortunately, on this rare of occasions, the reality has not quite met the promise. Musically, Mother Of All are incredibly adept. However, the Achilles heel here is the vocal style from Haumann himself. I find the gruff vocals generally a little high-pitched and too often they veer into shouting territory, thus lending some of the music more of a hardcore, crossover feel. There will be lots of music fans out there who will see this as a positive rather than a negative but I’m afraid that I’m not one of them despite my best efforts to the contrary.
I’m buoyed at the outset by opening track ‘Autumn’ thanks to the cool acoustic guitar-led intro that explodes into a flurry of melodic death metal activity, complete with memorable riffing, and relentless blast-led drumming. When the pace slows, the bass playing really comes to the fore too, despite being a commanding presence throughout. There are good dynamics at play too, as we get a reprise of the acoustic intro to break up the heavier material. Initially, Haumann’s vocals are ok, offering a thrashy bark here and there. But after a while, the delivery begins to grate on me just a little too much. I really wish Haumann had stuck to the drumming because on that score, he’s a beast, with technical ability as well as flair.
‘We Don’t Agree’ is a breakneck track with more impressive musicianship. Stylistically, when coupled with the vocals it has more of a death/thrash edge to it, all sharp, angular and aggressive. It’s here that the Haumann’s voice starts to veer into shouty territory with a slightly cringeworthy ‘let’s f**king go’ as the song changes direction a little.
Billed as a melodic progressive death metal affair, the prog element rears its head within ‘Curators Of Our World Scope’. Complex-sounding rhythms and off-kilter time signatures mess with my head as once again, I’m hugely impressed with the instrumental abilities of the trio. The title track by contrast allows more melody to surface within what’s much more of a straight-up melodeath composition, one that’s actually pretty catchy and a fair amount of fun to listen to. The same can be said about ‘At The Edge Of A Dream’, which offers up a catchy hook or two as well as solid, crunchy riffs to get the head banging.
I’m not a fan of the more caustic, attitude-laden thrash hybrid that goes by the name of ‘Blood Still Owed’, especially when Haumann spits some pretty crass lyrics. I don’t mind swearing in the music I listen to, but when it’s as blunt as ‘you f**king piece of sh*t’, I can’t help but feel that it was done for effect above all else.
The final track, ‘Feel The Pain’ is something altogether different though, and is possibly my favourite composition on this album. It plays with more of a classic hard rock swagger, where the melodies are more pronounced, the tempo is slowed, and the pulsing bass takes a prominent role. It’s on this track that a cleaner vocal delivery is used and it actually adds to the song rather than detract. It makes me wonder what the rest of the album might have sounded like with a different vocalist.
The other criticism I have about ‘Age Of The Solipsist’ is its length. The seven songs do cram in an awful lot of material but the record lasts for less than half an hour. By any stretch of the imagination, that’s significant brevity right there. I know that they say leave the audience wanting more, but I have heard EPs that have lasted longer. Hell, even a Tottenham Hotspur title challenge will last longer.
All-in-all, Mother Of All have created a debut album with plenty of merit but falls just a little short of my admittedly lofty early expectations. In terms of musicianship alone, Haumann and co. excel. Unfortunately, when reviewing a record, you have to take into account all aspects and for my tastes, the voice lets things down just a touch too much. Still, give ‘Age Of The Solipsist’ a spin by all means because there’s plenty to like about it.
The Score of Much Metal: 77%
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: