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Muscle and Marrow – The Human Cry

There’s nothing quite like opening up a brand new vinyl album and playing it for the first time. And when that album is the first vinyl pressing of a small but well-curated label, it’s even better. Top it off with amazingly good music, and, well, even the most hardcore hater is bound to have a moment of real happiness.

The new Muscle and Marrow album, The Human Cry, is the first LP release for Belief Mower, a label based in Eugene, Oregon. Over the past couple of years, Belief Mower has released about 14 cassettes, and they are currently planning a series of live Eagle Twin cassettes along with a Hungers 12-inch. Muscle and Marrow formed in 2013 and also released this, their full-length debut, in a tape version through Breathe Plastic Records.

Muscle and Marrow are vocalist and guitarist Kira Clark and drummer Keith McGraw, and they just recently wrapped up a tour of the western states. From Portland, Oregon, the pair make beautiful, haunting doom. This isn’t doom with a female singer like you’ve heard it before, so sweep all those assumptions away. Over nine songs and 40 minutes, the duo create a hypnotic body high.

Clark has a rich, emotive voice, and when it’s fully turned on she gets a quiver as if she is controlling the very atoms around her. She’s a witch, conjuring up powerful atmospheres of stormy skies, swirling clouds, dark horizons. While the name Muscle and Marrow may impart an image of minimalism, there’s no exposed bone here. Instead, we get a coursing network of blood vessels and twitching nerves. McGraw’s well-timed drumbeats illuminate this throbbing affirmation.

This is an album that makes you think about doom in a different way. Depressive, isolating doom is fine, but doom that dives into the swimming pool of blood that is life is even better. A comment by the band on their Facebook page sums up the dichotomy: “We make desperate, desolate music but still there are moments when being alive feels miraculous.”

— Vanessa Salvia

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