by Jess Blumensheid

Mouth of the Architect make quite the comeback with Quietly (Translation Loss, 2008). After their recent mixed-up demise, this Dayton, Ohio getup returns with original guitarist/frontman Alex Vernon, who oiled the post-metal machine of 2004's Time and Withering, still their heaviest album. Over time and constant lineup rearrangements, MOTA's playful keyboards and delayed guitars have caked that engine with dust.

While "post" is still intact, "metal" is in question. This release is an easier listen than previous albums. The uncompromising melancholy of their split with Kenoma - sparkling notes, searing guitars, haggard screams, rusty riffs - resurfaces here in "Hate and Heartache." It opens with a classic clip from Sidney Lumet's Network, which hisses disgust over worthless lifestyles and economic decay. Yet MOTA contradict the anger with smooth lines of echoing notes. Not even the vocals capture the clip's rage.

But the track is the best here. "Pine Boxes" and "Generation of Ghosts" are exceptionally boring for such an outstanding band. Although faint in the former, ear-shattering female vocals sting painfully in the latter. Made Out of Babies' Julie Christmas isn't tuned well enough for MOTA's engine. She should have operated within MOTA's atmospheric energy instead of dressing it up in pantyhose and lipstick. Rustiness is a quality MOTA shouldn't tidy up.

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