Album Type: Full-length
Release date: 2011
1. Ligature 5.48
2. Avahuasca 3.48
3. Spirit Horse 8.43
4. Bifrost (Instrumental) 6.10
5. The Undertaking 5:40
6. Born With A Black Tongue 2.39
7. Wishful Drinking 8.57
Running time 41.46
Mendozza are often referred to as a Sludge/Doom/stoner metal band from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. On their bandcamp page they are tagged as metal/rock/sludge/doom
Consisting of a 3 piece line up under the pseudonyms:
The Judge - Bass
Masterbeater - Drums
Deuce - Vocals & Guitar
This album is their 5th full length and the follow up to their 2010 album, CABRA NOCHE. Mendozza main claim to fame was their inclusion on the Underworld II: Evolution soundtrack in 2006.
I first became aware of Mendozza following my exposure to their 2010 album, CABRA NOCHE. Having been turned on to them due to comparisons with High on Fire and Melvins, and whether that was justified or not, I was immediately intrigued.
Indeed the band described CABRA NOCHE on their website as ‘The heaving breath of low end bass and guitars, combined with the Bina’s “laid back percussive artillery” of the drums, pound like the waves of the pacific, eroding the shoreline. Deuce’s vocals have been described “like he’s delivering his vox through a cloud of dopesmoke from beyond.”
Immediately I was hooked, and if that wasn't enough to convince me, the fact that the legendary knob twiddler Billy Anderson, (Neurosis/Eyehategod/Mr. Bungle) produced their record made me immediately buy it and I was not disappointed.
The order of the day with Mendozza (the album), are gargantuan riffs and that is the common theme throughout this album. Indeed, as soon as ‘Ligature’ begins, you’re met with a crunching riff, that knocks the breathe out of you and subtle arpeggios and trills serve to accentuate the opening track. Within 30 seconds of listening to this album, there is an immediate pay off and certainly you’re rewarded for purchasing this album. The riffs on this album are used as a means of binding this album together, like a ligature binding your hands or feet together, making it impossible to escape or for you to press ‘stop’, and why would you want too? This album is a fantastic!
What is striking about this record is that you can hear everything, the drums sound massive, with Master Beater intent on causing seismic movement and the low end of the bass, courtesy of The Judge, rumbling like a dormant volcano intent on erupting.
Mendozza, which was mixed by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis) gives the album a crisp snappy sound, and at times sounds like the Austin, Texas band, The Sword (Matt Bayles has also produced), which believe me is no band thing.
Mendozza appear to have gone for a stripped back approach to this album, producing an album that sounds like it was meant to be played live back to back. None of that pro-tools processed nonsense, just slow songs consisting of monstrous riffs and a sound that encapsulates all the best elements of sludge/doom/stoner metal.
‘Ligature’ is wholeheartedly a highlight of the album, with Deuce’s vocal style shifting from subtlety to brutality, often struggling to be heard over the tumultuous din. The barbaric onslaught of riffs is an ungodly cacophony of noise, however as I mentoned, there is subtlety there too. “Ayahuasca” is faster song in comparison, with the tight chugging intro, followed by series of hammer off and pull on’s to another chugging bar chord. This track is classic stoner/doom at its best and provides fans with their first taste of great solo work, with the use of wah to great effect. Despite the change of pace on this tune, Mendozza remain crushingly heavy.
“Spirit Horse” sounds monstrous, starting with a slow chord progression building into a kinda post metal sludge riff with what sounds like very minor bends offering a dark and also demonic sound to it. Think A Storm Of Light meets Melvins. At 8.43, this is the second longest track but don’t let that put you off, because just when you think it’s ending, the track strays back into a stoner metal vibe, sounding like an improvised desert session, getting louder and louder exhibiting the flair of the band, but also the wide variety of their influences. “Bifrost’ the only instrumental on the album, it has the band playing at analmost hypnotic pace, drawing comparisons to the tone and vibe of Dopes to Infinity era, Monster Magnet. The track has Master Beater and The Judge keeping things at a slow pace and it left me feeling that I was being drawn into a psychedelic world. Deuce is at his best, showing off his repertoire of subtle yet effective lead work, keeping things strangely ambient, with Master Beater keeping things tight with the droning bass sound of The Judge putting you in a trance like state
Following the psychedelia, “The Undertaking” and “Born with a Black Tongue” brings back the pain and both these tracks evoke a vibe of grandeur, with yet more outstanding solo work from Deuce but characterised by a classic doom sound, the latter being more uptempo with an fantastic one two note swap and slide which makes you sick with glee. Mendozza the album shows off the undoubted talent of this band and with the final track “Wishful Drinking” it is a wicked end to an amazing record. I wanted them to finish with a flurry however as Mendozza comes to it’s inevitable conclusion. My first thought is that I can’t wait for the next batch of skull crushing heaviness. Go buy it!
Check out the links below for details on the band and where to buy their music. I have also included a video to track 'Ligature' from their album below. I'd also like to thank Bina from Mendozza, for giving me the opportunity to review this record. I appreciate your generosity. Stay metal!