Mystery Blood: High On Death

Band: Mystery Blood
Album: High On Death (Feb 2016)
Genre: Shoe Gaze / Indie / New Wave / Goth / Dark-Wave / Psychedelic / Experimental
City: Wichita, Ks
Standout tracks: I Am The Sun, I Fucked My Way Up To The Pizza
Seen live: yes
Rating: 6.5/10 Pretty good! unique and interesting, but maybe not for everybody

This band reminds me a lot of another local band called “Domestic Drone”. I did a review awhile ago on them. There are some key differences, however. Mystery Blood is a 3 piece with the drummer doing most of the vocals and the bassist doing back-ups occasionally.

One of my earlier bands, Becoming Atlas, had a drummer/singer. So a lot of what I’m about to say comes from my experience with dealing with that. I know that professionals do that too. Code Orange, Hail The Sun, Genesis (Phil Collins) and the Eagles (I think). I’s sure there are others, but my point is that it can be done. It is just a bitch for stage set up. Do you put the vocalist up front like a frontman, or back like a traditional drummer? Are you playing at a venue big enough to use drum mics? If so, the sound man is going to hate you. When mic-ing the singer, he has to turn down the vocals or else he gets too much feedback from the drums and redlines. Feedback is a constant struggle with this kind of set up. Just get used to never having the vocals loud and clear enough to understand completely. A lot of times, the music suffers as well. I mean, it is REALLY fucking hard to drum complex drumming patterns and sing melodically at the same time. So often times, the drums remain simplistic and come secondary to the vocal part.

The Struggle Is Real.

The nice thing about having a drummer and singer in the same position is that the cues for changing to the next part of the song usually come from either the vocalist or the drummer. Having them be the same person basically assures that each transition will be perfect. Mystery Blood also has somewhat of a noise-rock approach to music, so a little feedback and muffled vocals actually work out pretty well for their live sound. This is a band I would recommend seeing live. It legit changed my perspective on their music. I bought their album around the time I bought Domestic Drone’s “NiteVisions”. (I still need to see them live btw) The drummer has absolute command of the band.

The first song I want to talk about is one of the most interesting and unique. I Am The Sun has an almost western style / wammy bar / peddal technique that creates a hypnotic effect with the echo / reverb. The repeated lyrics “I Am The Sun” add to the hypnosis. For some reason this song makes me think of the movie Mad Max, with the desert dune buggy chase. Only more like a cruise, instead of a chase. Now there is a certain point in this song that I think separates true open minded music fans. That point in this song comes at 2:24. That is where the Saxophone comes in. The drums build up to its entrance a little beforehand, but when it does it completely disturbs the ambient vibe. I feel like it is at this specific spot, that some people are going to recoil a bit. The sax part in this song, is not what I would describe as melodic smooth jazz. But the thing the audience is probably not realizing, is that it is not intended to be a comfortable sound. It is intentional discord. If this song was a story, this would represent a catastrophic event. If this was a ballet, this would be a dramatic event that causes all actors to panic. If it was an opera, this would be the most emotionally traumatic part of the song. The sax reminds me a bit of some kind of animal dying. I realize that sounds harsh. But it is a very harsh sound. I want to emphasis that this is what makes this song so unique. However, a lot of people will just hear the harsh sounds and think “amateur”. A lot of people will be turned off by the harsh sound of the sax. But I implore you to look at the song in a more dramatic fashion. Keep an open mind. This song is clearly about a struggle of some kind; and it is fucking beautiful. I’m not one to promote the use of drugs, but Acid or LSD and this song… I’m just saying…
To those who feel discomforted by the dissonance they created in this song, consider that

  • Not all music is supposed to make you feel good
  • They did it on purpose for effect
  • In art, the goal isn’t to appease you. It is to make you FEEL. Even though this song makes you feel uncomfortable, it does make you FEEL.

This technique isn’t new. Radiohead did something similar on their song, The National Anthem. Notice how they establish a hypnotic drone that repeats? This song also uses a sax, as well as many other instruments unconventionally. You can notice the song start to fall apart at 3:20. At 4:27 you can really see the resemblance. It is difficult for some to comprehend, but this is actually a very sophisticated and artistic style of expression.

  • Side Note: Now that I think about it, they should play with Ghost Town Strays. I’m not sure why. I just think they would be good on the same bill for a show. The perfect bill would be Mystery Blood, Ghost Town Strays, Zone Ender. They got enough similarities to make for a hell of a night, but also enough differences to not get boring after awhile.

The other song I like is “I Fucked My Way Up To The Pizza”. The lyrics are dumb but the song is just catchy and chaotic. It grooves with a surfer-ish vibe.

Here is a video of when I saw them live at Kirby’s.

Make sure to like them on their Facebook Page and look up events for upcoming shows. Don’t forget to buy the album on BandCamp.

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