Album Reviews

Issue 2023-070

Duo Review

Molybaron — Something Ominous

Molybaron - Something Ominous
Something Ominous (4:07) Set Alight (3:26) Billion Dollar Shakedown (3:39), Breakdown (3:17) Anyway (4:15) Daylight Dies In Darkness (4:07) Dead On Arrival (3:22) Pendulum (3:35) Reality Show (4:18) Vampires (3:46)
Andy Read

Formed in Paris eight years ago by Dublin-born singer/guitarist Gary Kelly and Parisian guitarist Steven Andre, Molybaron created a flood of positive reviews with their second album, The Mutiny. Released two years ago, my 10-out-of-10 enthusiasm has not waned. Tracks such as Lucifer, Animal and Amongst The Boys And Dead Flowers still get regular airplay. If I was drawing up my list of Top Albums of 2021 again, The Mutiny would still be at the top.

What struck me at the time and still resonates today, is how Molybaron had carved out a truly original sound, within a genre of music that has been repeating itself for too many years.

Gary Kelly gives a good explanation of how Molybaron seem to be operating in a field of one. "I write and produce all the music in the band, but I'm strange," he admits. "I never really listen to music. I have no idea what's hot or what's not these days. I suppose this makes it easier for me to create songs, I'm not trying to mirror any one style, I just write as it comes to me, probably based on what I hear floating in the ether; in the cinema, on the TV, on the elevator, it really doesn't matter."

Gary is now thinking outside the box without his co-founder member. Steven Andre has left to be replaced by Florian Soum on lead guitar. Sebastian De Saint-Angel (bass) and Camille Greneron (drums) take care of the rhythms and grooves.

Little else has changed.

Inside its eye-catching cover, Something Ominous delivers ten powerful-yet-succinct examples of modern-day progressive metal at its very best.

The best songs bookend this album. The opening title track has a delightful opening guitar run that develops into a thundering, head-rolling riff, before the anthemic crunch hits you for six. The dark groove metal of Set Alight has a brighter pop-rock swing to it. I'm left thinking of Ghost or the Von Hertzen Brothers, with balls! Again, Kelly's vocals bring an (Irish) folk lilt to many of the tracks here. Another original feature.

At the other end of the bookself, two of the early singles, Reality Show and Vampires, display the same stamps of quality.

The melancholic opening of Daylight Dies In Darkness showcases an elegant tilt towards Opeth with an Irish lilt. It's a clever darkly-balladic respite in the middle of the album.

Negatives? This time there are a few that diminish the album's impact.

I'm not a fan of rap-style vocals, nor grungy guitars. Both appear on the Rage Against The Machine / System Of A Down-likened Billion Dollar Shakedown. Nor do I admire the use of the F-word as the basis of a song's hookline. I can swear as easily as anyone, but in lyrics, the F-word (as over-repeated in Breakdown), is a cheap and easy cop-out. The English language is so rich, it deserves to be used in a more thoughtful and imaginative way.

The album as a whole does lack the depth of its predecessor. Nothing here really passes the four-minute mark with any intent. Whilst the five tracks mentioned previously showcase how a plethora of musical ideas do not require a 20-minute epic in which to be showcased, the other five songs have less intrigue.

Dead On Arrival and Pendulum stop dead in their tracks just as they begin to evolve from the basic riff and melody. Weighing-in at a a measly 37 minutes, there is plenty of time to allow at least a couple of songs to grow and develop. This would give extra depth for listeners to enjoy, whilst creating a more varied disc. It goes against the band's claim to be thinking outside the box. A few surprises would have been good here and there.

Kelly's lyrics, again add depth to the music, this time focusing on real world themes mixed with the challenges of facing one's own mortality.

Kelly explains. “This new album explores aging and the acute awareness of time passing by; the anticipation of losing the ones you love, lingering regrets about precious time spent on unimportant things, the fear of being old and alone.”

So whilst not quite as compelling as its predecessor, Something Ominous is a another powerful statement that cements Molybaron's reputation as one of the most promising modern progressive-metal bands around today.

Chris Rafferty

Molybaron continue to track an upward trajectory with the release of their third album Something Ominous, a follow-up to their very well received 2021 release The Mutiny. Musically, lyrically and thematically, Something Ominous retains the characteristics of The Mutiny, powering its way through 10 tracks in 37 minutes of driving prog metal.

Without being too dramatic, it combines punctuated riffs with catchiness and melody. It is a crushing release from the French/Irish band.

Led by Gary Kelly from Dublin, he is a considerable force in the development and evolution of Molybaron. He writes the songs, sings, plays guitar, produces and unusually also takes care of the artwork. In January 2023, Molybaron recruited a new guitarist in Florian Soum.

Watchers have expressed comparisons between Molybaron and among others, Rage Against The Machine, System of a Down, Muse and Alterbridge. Comparisons have also been expressed regarding the similarity between The Mutiny and Something Ominous. There certainly is a similarity with the themes that are explored on both albums, for example, corruption, addiction, mental health. On The Mutiny, the track Slave to the Algorithm, is an example of how they carry the themes from The Mutiny to Something Ominous.

In advance of the release, Molybaron have released a number of singles. Vampires was the first at the end of 2022, followed by Breakdown, Something Ominous and finally Reality Show at end of August 2023.

Molybaron — promo photo

Something Ominous opens the album kicking off an eerie exploration of artificial intelligence. "Algorithm designed for the mainstream mind, with total control the blind lead the blind," sings Kelly. Scary stuff? Deep and dark, it sets the tone for the first of ten tracks. The second track is Set Alight. It is anthemic catchy track.

Billion Dollar Shakedown is one track that diverges from the tone of the album, introducing rap to the sound. It has similarities with rap sequences from Rage Against The Machine. Incidentally, the rap is delivered in a Dublin accent. Breakdown explores emptiness with lines such as: “carries the weight of tomorrow's fear”.

Anyway delivers a powerful lead guitar solo. Daylight Dies in Darkness can be described as the only ballad on the album. It finishes with another powerful lead solo.

A bass riff opens Dead on Arrival and introduces drum polyrhythms; making the track probably the heaviest on the album. Pendulum leads us nicely to the final two tracks which I consider the best on the album. Reality Show has a catchy melody and backing vocals. Vampires brings the album to an energetic close.

With regard to the overall album, there isn't a lot to be critical of, except the length. At 37 minutes it is quite short. Thatsaid, given the standard of the album, I think they can be forgiven for this.

As a band at this point in time, they could never claim to be prolific, either through touring or releases. That is about to change thanks to an extensive European tour supporting Swedish prog metal band Soen.

Album Reviews