MAYFAIR - Schlage mein Herz, schlage...

Mayfair - Schlage mein Herz, schlage...

10 songs
40:32 minutes
***** ***
Pure Prog


Mayfair were one of those bands that tried their hands at a more experimental kind of progressive metal in the early Nineties, and while their recently re-released debut album Behind (1993) was quite excellent, coming across as a mix of Psychotic Waltz and Voivod, they never achieved the success they deserved. One reason might have been the album’s short running time of a mere half hour, another reason possibly the band’s origins, considering that Austria has rarely been an important marker for metal music. Two albums followed, each of them released on a different label, so there was probably also no real time to develop the band’s popularity status.

Now, after a fifteen year hiatus, Mayfair are back with a comeback album on Pure Prog Records, which is a sub-label of Pure Steel Records. The founding members Mario (vocals) and René (guitars) have hired a new rhythm section, and once again show that there is a world of progressive metal beyond the well known stereotypes. Although I doubt that Mayfair will ever reach worldwide success with their strange music, I do praise their tenacity of producing music quite unlike anything else you might have heard.

I am not familiar with the band’s second and third albums, so I can only say that there are some parallels between their acclaimed debut and the new Schlage mein Herz, schlage..., even though they may seem tiny. The current Mayfair have evolved from their early days, and no longer need to adhere so closely to their influences. Even if the stylistic orientation may still be labelled progressive metal, this is only an approximation of what they really do. The guitar rarely has metal distortion, instead prefers to stay in unusual psychedelic territory, reminding more of Primus weirdness than your typical metal band. The bass guitar has consequently more weight than usually in a metal setting, to offset the less aggressive guitar playing. The most distinctive feature are the vocals. More than half of the songs are sung in German language, giving Mario ample opportunity to come up with rather poetic lyrics that add an undeniable gravitas. Take for instance the opener and title track, a quite unusual piece of music that reminded me of German prog rockers Anyone’s Daughters, adding a dramatic chanson element to a genre usually kept more straightforward, resulting in something rather indescribable. The English language tracks consequently don’t have the same chilling effect, but they are in the minority too. Mayfair also have a more straightforward side, as showcased on the three minute short Abendp_rno, but they are always at their most powerful when they add a healthy dose of pathos (Drei Jahre zurück, Du allein). The concluding, aptly titled Der Abschied even nods at Pink Floyd, circa 1968 (Set The Controls To The Heart Of The Sun), proving once and for all that Mayfair’s roots are located more in the Sixties, Seventies and early Eighties than anything that came thereafter.

Schlage mein Herz, schlage... is still quite a short album, despite having ten tracks. At times one might wish for Mayfair to occasionally indulge into lengthy jam parts, but then again it is just as well that they always concentrate their energies on the necessary, thus never even taking the risk of coming up with superfluous parts. While Behind was a grand statement for the times when it was released, Schlage mein Herz, schlage... is just as much a testimony of a band that doesn’t need to dwell in the past. Fans of experimental progressive metal with definite psychedelic leanings should be utterly delighted.

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