Published Jun 22, 2010It's basic trivia that the Black Widow spider is one of nature's most enticing, yet deadly. creatures. Still, not until being confronted by potential toxic poisoning do we really consider how the little fuckers could destroy us in one instinctive twitch of the nervous system. They command our respect with reserved power masked by delicacy and infinite, mesmerizing beauty, an analogy that works wondrously with debut full-length The Moulting from Calgary, AB's technically-inspired doom metallers Mares of Thrace. This duo (known for their time in/as Kilbourne/¡Ole!/Tosca) embrace that comparison thanks to the combination of intensely divergent aspects: songs continually fluctuate between guttural voraciousness, coupled with dynamic ingenuity, unbridled barbaric aggression and unsettling tranquillity. It's a shocking mixture that reveals some of the most beautifully lucid moments before exploding into congenital attack mode. Pulling from traditional genre influences, including Isis and Neurosis, yet factoring in a deeper viral attack only severe Canadian roots are capable of mining (the confrontational yet mind-blowing simplicity of Kittens comes to mind), The Moulting is a delightfully rabid, apocalyptic, unearthly introduction to Mares of Thrace, two Black Widows ensnaring unwitting listeners with apocalyptic riffs propelled by massive, hammering drums and scorching vocal defilement.
How did you manage to create such a thick, overwhelming aural attack as a duo?
Guitarist/vocalist Therese Lanz: My, you noticed my thick aural attack? You certainly do know how to make a lady blush! Ahem. I'm a gear nut. My eye is perpetually on Craigslist for vintage stomp-boxes, weird boutique amps, goofy devices to help me plumb the possibilities of sonic grotesquery. Each component in the rig has been carefully thought out to fill a role or space usually occupied by another human or instrument. I also play a baritone guitar, which manages to nail some bass guitar frequencies and some normal guitar frequencies. Stef's [MacKichan, drums] parts also fill up a lot of space. She's a proficient, formally trained percussionist. They hate it when you ask them to play stripped down and conversely love it when you ask them to majestically wank for an uninterrupted half-hour.
Sonically, what compelled you on The Moulting? Were there any influences outside of what a listener might expect?
We both have boners for the progressive, artistic side of modern heavy, but our tastes run the gamut far and wide. I don't know, what do listeners expect? Would they expect how deeply enamoured I am of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass?
How did Mares Of Thrace form?
Our prior band were gearing down for a number of reasons, mostly related to personnel wanting to live proper grown-up lives instead of living in a van hung-over and with marginal hygiene. Stef and I had wanted to do a "slow and crushing" project for years. We happened to both be in the jam space one day, I said, "Hey, Stef, play an epic, crushing beat in a weird time signature." Ten minutes later, "Venison" was born. The stars just aligned. It was the most natural thing in the world.
What prompted you to work as duo as opposed to a power trio or greater?
Can you deliver the same aural weight in a live context?
The neat thing about the record is I used the exact same rig I use live, other than borrowing a friend's bass head, which is way nicer than mine. Other than standard layering, there were barely even any second guitar parts. It's a very honest record. I view the minimalism of the two-piece as a stylistic element, not a shortcoming, and we very much wanted the record to reflect that. I even do the electronics live. I'm a woman; I can multi-task.
Can you give insight into the title?
It's about shedding an old life, old toxic habits, old self-destructive paradigms. There can be no growth or renewal without first ridding oneself of the crusty remnants of what came before. Bugs and snakes, both of which Stef's obsessed with, do this continually. They literally step out of the shrivelled husk of what they were before and are reborn. Humans can do this too, albeit less literally, should we choose. We were going to call it Ecdysis, which is the scientific term for moulting, but it sounds too tech metal. Also, Stef keeps dried up tarantula moultings around her house. No joke.
How about overall subject matter? What's the drive there?
Our previous bands were highly political. This one's not. The first year of Mares' existence was a turbulent one and it all got vomited into the lyrics.
Given your past accomplishments, some fans might not expect such a technically-inspired dirge from you and Stef.
I'll agree somewhat. Make no mistake: a big drive for this band and our writing process was writing self-indulgent, weird shit that we found entertaining and challenging as players. That said, we do aspire to continually one-up ourselves and so should everyone. How boring would it be if we rehashed the same shit for 20 years? I guess AC/DC has made a pretty good run of it.
Working with Craig Boychuk (Kittens, KEN Mode, Fuck the Facts), how was that?
Craig has made several of my favourite heavy records of the last decade (note to Keith, he made 1/5 of your top ten metal records of 2008!). Craig taught me the joys of Chinese vegetarian mushroom jerky, Bragg's all-natural soy seasoning and to store your flaxseed whole and in the fridge. Working with him was our best and most fulfilling recording experience to date. He has a rare combination of technical savvy and instinctive, unconventional voodoo. And we both get really excited about trips to the ethnic grocery store.
Anything else you'd like to add?
The most salient feature of this band and this album is that it's really a labour of love for us. We lavish the utmost attention onto every ugly chord and drum fill. We do our own flyers; we design our own merch. We set up facing each other live so we can pretend like we're still in the jam space, only I usually put on something other than pyjama pants. Mother Teresa said, "In this life, you cannot do great things, only small things with great love." Mares of Thrace are a small thing done with great love. (Arctodus)