What happens when members of one the most eccentric prog-rock groups rise from the ashes of band fallout to combine with the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Atoms for Peace’s Flea?
Antemasque, a creatively-stacked supergroup fronted by the former members of the Mars Volta, is due to release their self-titled debut July 15th. Firing off rapid rounds of singles (including “4AM,” “People Forget,” “Hangin’ in the Lurch,” and now “Drown All Your Witches”) in response to surging fan response, the band has built significant momentum behind their in-your face, high-voltage sound.
The project is introduced with “4AM,” a track that features a tasteful simplicity from all members, resulting in a crisp work where vocal trade-offs between Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala resonate powerfully through the backdrop of treble heavy, Rush-inspired guitar riffs. Creating an eerie atmosphere through scattered guitar riffs and drum fills, the song generates anxious feelings with lines such as, “4 A.M. and I hear their cry, look through the curtain but no sign of life” and “watching, waiting, black and white surveillance.”
“People Forget” returns to the Mars Volta days of syncopated rhythms and guitar crescendos accentuating the intensity of its vocals. Auxiliary guitar atop a Dave Elitch’s locomotive percussion beat provides pints of stimulation for the listener. Abrasive tones and a repetitive chorus create a sense of urgency.
“Hangin in the Lurch” continues to develop the revamped project’s maturity and drive for simplicity. It strikes a more graspable message, without the chaos and confusion characteristic of the Mars Volta. Hitting hard right off the bat with an aggressive guitar hook from Rodriguez-Lopez, the track’s raspy vocals are shifty, criminal. Angsty reiterations of “it’s a long way down when you’re waiting for the dust to clear,” a steady accelerando, and shades of punk-inspired aggression take the listener on a wild, pre-mediated ride.
The latest addition to these teasers, “Drown all your Witches” deviates from past works by combining an unplugged atmosphere with soothing synthesizers to, instantly enhancing the Cedric’s relaxed vocals. Lyrical allusions and a simple song structure offer an intellectually piercing approach that leaves listeners speculating about the song’s meaning as well as the group’s future direction. “And on that day with our backs against the wall / Is that how you drowned all your witches?”
As a musical match-made-in-heaven, Antemasque’s reentry to the scene has so far been dramatic, drownings or not.