Album Review: MAMMOTH Progenies
Back before I even wrote for this site, I remember stumbling upon this group via the rabbit hole of Bandcamp arriving at their 10-minute prog jam titled "Innate." Being a virgin in regards to instrumental jazz-fusion metal at the time, I remember being so flabbergasted not only by the length, but the technical mastery sewn through the entire track. As time flowed along, I witnessed the band release a follow-up record and also open up for Haken and Sithu Aye. While it was only within the span of a couple years and I was simply a bystander in their evolution, I felt like a parent watching a band I admired grow up.
With a long history of releases and lineup changes, founding member and guitarist Wes Thrailkill made the decision to tie the project's history up nicely in the Progenies compilation. Although the trio's current lineup consists of bassist Yasutaka Nomura and drummer Aliyar Kinik, the project has previously held bassist Danny Choi and drummers Ryan Takemura, Jordan Soto, and Chase Bryant amongst other various guest musicians that you will hear within this compilation. I previously reviewed their most recent LP, Deviations, which you can check out my full opinion on by clicking here. But for the lazy folk, I'll summarize by stating it is easily Mammoth's best work finding middle ground between shred and progressive beauty. Of the seven tracks originally on that record, "Obscurements," "Entanglements," and "The Acclimation of Sedation" make an appearance on this compilation. Besides those compositions and the Innate title track, I wasn't aware of the other material included on here. In respects to the actual construction of this compilation I'll go through these songs as they are listed as I assume the order has an intent and flow.
The first piece "A Break in Continuity" was originally released as part of the Shapeless record back in 2012. For being five years old, the production sounds quite spot on, the songwriting is relatively fun, and there is tasteful textural, melodic, and rhythmic experimentation. Granted, compared side to side with their more modern material, this song feels more basic, however it is packed pretty tall with clever licks making it a snazzy way to start things off. Also, the last forty seconds in this song is incredibly simple, yet badass. "Ruya," initially off the 2014 Polymorphism release, presents the more gentle and jazzy side of Mammoth. Of course, the inevitable high-gain smooth shredding arrives halfway and then the song sizzles back down by the end. Coming out of the Dimension of Inversion album from 2013, "Metta Warm Fleece" is somewhat similar to modern progressive instrumental shred in regards to the repetition of melodic licks evolving to have hints of noticeable variation. And looping back to the Shapeless LP, "Psychedelic Love Handles" has hints of Devin Townsend-like riffage similar to something off of Terria.
After the lengthy previously mentioned "Innate" track, a non-album single called "Future Reflection" that came out in 2014 harnesses commonalities with Plini and Sithu Aye, but is ultimately one of a kind. Additionally off Polymorphism, "Hallucinogenic Hummingbird" veered off course by actually including tremendously pleasant female vocals. Both "Repetition in Regression" and "Paradigm" are from the Innate release, yet rest on opposite sides of the spectrum, the former being relaxing while the latter is more adrenaline-pumped. Closing tracks, "It's Too Early for DMT" and "Not Yet" off Dimension of Inversion and Polymorphism respectively, work impressively well paired together as the duality between the two comes off like a show closer to an epic encore within this format.
Overall, the selection presented here to display the history of Mammoth is extremely strong. Personally, I think it may have been more significant to possibly order these tracks chronologically to reveal the project's evolution, but the dynamic flow from song to song in this tracklisting is maybe as powerful. Progenies is the most appropriate gateway into Mammoth's music as it accurately conveys their weird approach to unpredictably jazzy, instrumental progressive metal.