Mesmerize – Vinyl // CD // DD
Clostridium Records – released May 21, 2018
Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr
The Heavy Crawls
The Red Sterns
While most of us have taken the summer to live life, the way we do, soaking up all of the joys life offers us while taking a break from the ‘every-day’ as it were. Max Tovstyi is the exception to the rule here. Having completed another tour with The Heavy Crawls and their rotating cast of members, he completed his Broken Bricks Studios project, including getting the right building and equipment, and doing most of the work himself. During all of this he had going on, Max was able to complete a series of 12 songs that tend towards a more blues-feel record, complete with faster tempo tracks interwoven with the slower, and Max does it ALL on this album. Previously, he seemed to concentrate on the space-rock type of structure and letting his guitar work speak for itself while sitting at the helm of his creative juggernaut, steering into the world. This time, it is just him, no pretense, no other minds involved so we get PURE Max, claiming responsibility for every nuance and note.
I had been contacted directly by Max to review this solo-outing, the day before it’s release and upon initial listening, I was floored with the simple purity of each track, surprised with the dozen compositions that sound very little like anything I had heard before from…
From the power chord intro of ‘Rising Sun’ through to the phased-out beginning of bonus track ‘So Unfamiliar’ and it’s slow-cascading tempo, there is just so much to ingest here. While ‘Wait Till Tomorrow’ comes out of the gate relatively quick, he slows to a mid-tempo pace that allows him to flex his muscle, including harmonizing alongside himself in the chorus and you can hear some multi-layered soloing as it permeates the air around. ‘Interstellar Girl opens with a jazzy drumline that leads right into some funky 70’s sounding keyboards that follow the pumped-up bass line and is jaunty enough to keep your head moving along, and ‘Feel Like Dying Now’ keeps that feel but is a diatribe in sadness as Max describes what took him there, all frosted in some of his most-personal soloing he has done yet.
‘From The Blues To The Funk’ sounds like something lifted directly out of Mississippi mud and by the time you have reached the three minute mark, the funk has overtaken the bass and the ‘funk’ is all over the place, replete with some sassy horn work for good measure. ‘Yesterday’s Blues’ is more traditional in arrangement and delivery but still containing his heart on his sleeve, much like the token ‘heartstrings-puller’ delivery of ‘You Have To Make Up Your Mind’ that includes some female back-up vocals to compliment the chorus here.
‘Show Me The Way’ maintains this feel and does not disappoint while tracks like ‘World Of Sin’ give you something to chew-on with the lush mix that manages to convey a little of the previously mentioned space-rock’ feel and still feeling heavy as fuck, where ‘You Know That I Know’ is one of the faster tracks offered and keeps it moving as much as any other from this album. ‘Show Me The Way’ sums up the rest of the record in keeping with that standard 3/4 time sig that is so prevalent with the blues overall.
The one that stands out and away from the others on this in I didn’t just want, I NEEDED to listen to this one over and over, that being the title track ‘Mesmerize’ with what can only be described as fuzzed-out, punch you in your chest hard rock brought perfectly into this century by Max’ own hand. The structure/arrangement/delivery is flawless and FOR ME, is the best I have heard from Max to this point.
Having watched this all develop has been fascinating and I can only hope for more, including a tour to the USA. Get it if you haven’t already, share it with ALL that surround you and when all else fails, keep it LOUD!!