LA SCALTRA: Mater (Solar Lodge 2023)

After three albums and an ep (all of them with Solar Lodge except for Cabaret – self produced in 2016 but reedited by said German label in 2020) the also German La Scaltra present Mater, possibly their best work to date. The cd is designed to maintain that foggy and esoteric esthetics we saw in the other ones, with a booklet that includes the lyrics and the exquisite care that they always put in the label and its productions. Once again, we get the great work of Gogo Malone in the design of the cover and the artwork, capturing with perfect synchrony what will sound afterwards. And the thing is that, referring to the musical, the important part, so far, the quartet knew their way around classic, in some way attractive goth rock, with ubiquitous keyboards and female voices, but now, in Mater they’ve decided to turn it around a little, to accentuate the importance of guitars and to low the beat of their songs a little. They’ve evolved, still partially, in the way to a more metal dark rock, close to the doom with strokes of shoegaze. A pretty atmospheric kind of doomgaze, close but less metallic than bands like Alcest – and a lot others – that make this Mater, in my opinion, a more than interesting work. It’s curious that precisely the hardening comes accompanied by that significant low on the beats, but in this matter the result is better than good.

These nine tracks (eight and a beautiful intro), reflect their main composer (Aeleth Kaven) feelings and move in between the witchy and the references to the different gods from a variety of times and backgrounds. Baco, Dalila, Azazel, Vassago… The sound of the bass seems to be right on point to me, it perfectly underlines from those four strings in the infinite work of miss Kaven and Jay Sharpe in the guitars and the rest of the instruments. On the other hand, Aeleth and Dae Widow’s vocal games stand out in each and every single groove on the cd. Another hit in the mark is the enclose of the masculine voices, as the ones in Azazel, by Konstantin Michaely (Wisborg), or the ones in The Green Light by Ashen (Ashfall). The whole album seems to introduce you in one of those forests in center or north Europe, where the light seems to never be able to enter but the fog never lets go of you, and where you want to imagine goblins, elves, fairies or any other mythical beings behind each filthy log. This already happened a bit in the previous albums, but in this Mater (parallel to that renovated sound) it’s even more noticeable. Will it be an album “of transition” in between a past and a future focused on the more atmospheric, with more guitars and darkness? Time will tell, as always.

I mentioned that this change was partial, so that the more canonic goth is still present in songs as Dancing on Debris or Harmageddon. Both very interesting tracks and – the first one – could perfectly be played in any dark club, if there’s any Djs left that would know what to do. The best songs in the album, once again always in my opinion, are the most atmospheric, tracks like Mater itself, Azazel or Delilah, even though it’s complicated to just settle to a couple or three of them. The whole album maintains a beat that places the German group in a “pedestal” from where, without a doubt, will be hard to get them off the moment they just move a little further in this line they have already marked. Mater, as I already said it in the beginning, is the best work the ones in the ruhr river basin have so far. And yeah, maybe the Type O Negative’s shade is long, but I honestly think that Mater seems to have transcended to a sound that even keeping with some doubts (with the past and also with more or less hidden inspirations), results to be as honest as fresh and innovating. In genres as the one that usually occupy us, that, apart from strange, is very remarkable.