Muscle and Marrow – Love (The Flenser)

Sunday, 3rd July 2016
Rating: 8/10

Decidedly not metal (as indicated by the accompanied bio and hereby verified by our aged, questionable ears), Portland, OR’s Muscle and Marrow are the two member combination of Kira Clark and Keith McGraw, on vocals/guitars and drums, respectively. Their setup alone indicates Muscle and Marrow is of the experimental and/or avant-garde variety, which they most certainly are. (If worse came to worse in the never-ending rush to “tag” bands, then one would assume Clark and McGraw would be okay with being called avant-garde.) The band’s sophomore Love is a stretched-out, emotive, perhaps even artsy affair that deals with love and loss, two topics us hardened metallers can relate to.

Clark’s voice carries Love throughout. She’s prone to some unexpected careens, like on “My Fear,” or the ever-building “Light,” which is easily her best moment on record, as she builds and topples her vocals into a momentous crescendo. And she’s capable of playing it to the back, allowing for space and dynamics to take hold. These examples can be found on “The Drooling Mouth” and excellent “Sacs of Teeth,” where favors a more delicate and restrained angle to her vocals.

The combination of Clark’s vocals and the busy, highly engaging drum work of McCraw make Muscle and Marrow a duo that traverses genre. In turn, Love pulls out all of the stops in becoming a heady, intuitive listen, something that can only be spawned from individuals who operate on the peripheral boundaries of what is normally expected from music.

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