A number of words come to mind when listening to Bonfire Diaries, the debut full-length from Oakland’s Metal Mother. “Breathy” and “ethereal” describe the vocals, while “down-tempo” and “bottom-heavy” fit the sound. Songs are built upon webs of keyboards, bass and percussion, while Tara Tati’s ghostly vocals flit through the sound scapes like lost spirits. Oh and there’s tons of reverb, plenty of shoe-gazing spaciness, and not a power chord in sight. In other words, Metal Mother is about as non-heavy metal as you can get.
There’s still lots to enjoy, though. Opener “Shake” gets the proceedings off to a throbbing, swooping start, while “Lost Story” uses Tati’s ululating vocals to good effect and “Vices” flexes its percussive muscle. The album is consistent—maybe too consistent—in following its sonic template, but on the upside, that template is unlikely to remind you of anything else you’ve heard this month. That counts for something, doesn’t it?