By: Tommy Walzer
Deep, tender lyrics coupled with a gritty sound perfectly reflect the nominal connotation of Portland’s Muscle and Marrow. The gloomy duo of Kira Clark (guitar, vocals) and Keith McGraw (drums, samples) strip doom metal down to a strikingly beautiful but aptly morose state. Their debut album, The Human Cry, was released last August. The nine track LP mixes dark psychedelia and witchcraft into a weighty package that deserves to be taken seriously. Clark’s vocals spiral upwards from droning to ghostly shrilling on tracks like “Surround the Fire.” She’s also not shy to let her emotions run wild through angsty screams on tracks like “Childhood” and “I’m Old.” Anger, longing, and despair are the central themes on the album, all of which Clark expresses with the utmost rawness. Clearly a gifted vocalist, she is supplemented by her own guitar playing, which relies heavily on effects that add delay and chunkiness. Her slow and low strumming is amplified to the point of dimensional transcendence. Alongside steadily crushing drums by McGraw, the weight of each track bears down on you while you’re helplessly sucked in. Keith’s use of heavy tom hits, cymbal crescendos, and ominous samples add eerie suspense fit for any black magic ritual. For a two piece act, their sound is big and bold, and may just haunt you in your dreams.