Maserati – Maserati VII – 87%

My first introduction to Maserati was just last year when I became obsessed with their 2010 album ‘Pyramid of the Sun‘ . Similar to bands such as El Ten Eleven, Lite and Dorena, their style of post-rock is infectiously and obnoxiously catchy, relying on loops, patterns and electronic beats to help forge their sound. With each listen the band grows on you with their radical and sometimes “out there” approach to music. The writing process for the Georgia 4-piece is down to a science at this point, and that’s what makes ‘Maserati VII‘ so damn good. They don’t try to reinvent the wheel with their latest release, they’ve simply improved it in every possible way.

The album begins with a strong bass presence amidst a repetitive synth-like keyboard that leads to the amping up of psychedelic and space-age guitar work. Layers build upon one another at breakneck pacing as the intensity ramps up with each corresponding guitar layer. There are no real focal points to “San Angeles“, and that’s what makes the song so fantastic. I literally have no idea where my ears are supposed to be tuning into and that’s the beauty of it. “Martin Rev” keeps the albums flow going with a similar baseline layer and the high-pitched squeals of a guitar that harkens back to a different era. I should probably take a second to mention the patient drum work of newcomer Mike Albanese here. Drumming found throughout the album is spot on, energetic and minimal at times when it needs to be, fitting right in with everything the band has set out to accomplish with this record.

“The Eliminator” is as classic Maserati as it gets and sounds like a track that could easily be placed on just about any of their albums and would still fit in perfectly. It shares a lot of similarities to another one of my favorite tracks of theirs, “Synchronicity IV” off their 2007 album, ‘Inventions for the New Season’. One of Maserati‘s recipes for success has always been their fast, aggressive and sometimes distorted guitar work that builds itself into a tornado of sound, ripping through everything in its path and that’s exactly what this track does. “Flashback” is something of a transitional track that is highlighted by a rhythmic drum pattern.

That transitional track is much needed because it leads right into “Abracadabracab“, the longest Maserati song to date to my knowledge clocking in at nearly 11 minutes. While the track doesn’t refrain from maintaining the albums pacing, the guitar work found here is more relaxed than earlier tracks. Rather than trying to blow you away, this track proves that the band still has incredible range and is capable of belting out an epic track that can sustain listener interest without the band’s signature aggressive style. “Solar Exodus” is the first track to slow the album down and with good purpose.  Lush guitars fade in and out in the background casually as heavily digitally filtered vocals are the songs prominent focus. To be perfectly honest, I love the vocals here and they just fit the album’s atmospheric aura. “Lunar Drift” is strange song that opens up with deep synth work and feels again like a transitional track.

VII‘ returns to form with “Earth-Like“, a raw, gritty in your face song that packs a punch from the opening seconds. Bass plays a strong role in this track and the guitar work is on point as drumming plays a steady beat that keeps everything in order. Easily the heaviest track on the album, “Earth-Like” feels the closest to a conventional post-rock song on the album, but even that’s a stretch as there’s really nothing conventional about this band. The guitar work found throughout this track is my absolute favorite of the album. From a technical standpoint this track is something of a marvel as well. The soundstaging is tight and the track is heavy as hell, but it’s open just enough that the layering is apparent and the instrument separation is noticeable, with drums taking a backseat, bass filling the lower areas of the mix and guitars front facing. “San Tropea” is the album’s closer and plays it safe by following Maserati‘s blueprint for success.

In so many ways Maserati feels like a band that doesn’t belong in this time period. If Post-rock existed in the early 80’s I’d like to believe Maserati would be at the helm of the genre. From the funky electronica, strong use of bright repetitive synths, and the aggressive yet rhythmic beats, I’m fairly certain that I would be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t at least have the thought of bright neon colors or 80’s dance clubs in the back of their mind when listening to a Maserati album. And while the whole thing can occasionally feel repetitive at times, we’re talking about a genre where 15+ minute displays of walls of distortion are adored, so I think this aspect can be overlooked. ‘VII‘ is just another feather in the cap of a band that has overcome tragedy to continue their stellar career. 12-6-12

Available on CD ($10) and 2x Vinyl ($15) at Temporary Residence LTD Shop

Available digitally for $9 on Amazon