MAYFAIR - Frevel

Mayfair - Frevel

11 songs
43:49 minutes
***** **
Pure Steel


Mayfair were one of those progressive rock bands that were founded in the late Eighties in the wake of pioneers like Sieges Even, Mekong Delta and Watchtower. As they came a few years later, they tried a more experimental thing on their little noticed debut album Behind..., and were part of a small vanguard of avant prog bands that tried to take the genre even further but didn’t really succeed. It was great though ultimately forgotten bands like Annon Vin, Prklz and Xerxes that made the early Nineties rather bearable in a time when grunge was the new hype.

Continuing in a less progressive way, Mayfair released another two albums in the Nineties, and then went on hiatus. They came back in 2013 with the really pleasant Schlage mein Herz, schlage... on which many lyrics were already in German. Since then it’s a new album every three years, with Frevel being their third album since their comeback and their sixth album overall.

The progressive days have gone, and the metal days actually too. The lyrics are now entirely German. The band’s sound is labelled as avantgarde rock by their label, and while this may be taking things a little bit too far, it is a fact that their stylistic orientation is hard to define. The guitar is electric yet mostly undistorted. The rhythm section therefore has quite a prominent role, with especially the bass guitar adding a lot to the sound. All of this works as a backdrop for Mario’s charismatic vocals. His voice is rather high, the lyrics are at times poetic, then veer off into the downright bizarre. There is a good mix between more upbeat tracks and melancholic ballads, and my own musical background makes me prefer the former. The opener Evil Christine and Annelise are for instance two tracks about dangerous women, and the first single Ungetaktet is a political song that feels prophetic as it must have been written before the Nazis decided to leave the Austrian parliament. I didn’t mention this before: Mayfair come from the Western part of Austria, quite close to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and it is in that tiny country that they chose to record their new album.

If I have to come up with reference points, I’d like to name Noir Désir who have a similar basic electric guitar sound, or the poetic side of Swiss chansonnier Stephan Eicher, and maybe the more straightforward side of German progressive rock band Anyone’s Daughter who also started as a prog band and then did some really interesting straighter rock stuff later on. The ballads on Frevel are sometimes a little much for my taste, but I do like how the songs are concise and always come quickly to the point. Fans of no-nonsense rock music with a taste for the different should check out the new album by these Austrian veterans. Mayfair still have a few stories left to tell.

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