Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, self-professed fuzzed-out sci-fi, doom trio, Cities of Mars hit the scene around 2015, ready to fully lean into the conceptual space of stoner doom. With their two debut singles launching their tale of a Soviet agent landing on Mars covertly in 1971 and discovering a buried civilization. The following Celestial Mistress EP continued to flesh out the interplanetary saga of the KGB cosmonaut, with new release The Horologist being the second full-length album describing the events through this mythological history of Mars.
The Horologist wastes no time in cranking up the atmospheric, old school sci-fi feels that followers of the band will be familiar with. Coming together with the awesome cover art that’s reminiscent of the long lost science fiction, ‘choose your own adventure’ books of the ’70s. The world Cities of Mars are constructing here would feel right at home in one of these adventure novels, it’s detailed, populated and delivered in a raw yet very well-constructed fashion.
The distortion and fuzz littering the album combined with incredibly far-reaching and powerful vocals grab you from the early moments of opening track ‘Necronograph’. It dares you to become fully invested in, not only the music, but the story it portrays until the end of the album, closing with the relentless crescendos, crushings riffs and pulverizing symbols of ‘Lines in the Dark’.
Standing tall on the record much like the fabled monoliths on the red planet itself are tracks ‘Hydrahead’ and the simply massive ‘Last Electric Dream’, both driving home huge doom riffage and oozing with atmosphere and aesthetic. There are some fantastic, fresh new bands in the Stoner/Doom arena right now and Cities of Mars only add to that deep pool of quality, their conceptual abilities should be recognised alongside the likes of Mastodon, The Sword and Coheed and Cambria. That’s not to say that there is anything on the album that wouldn’t hold up as a stand-alone track either. For me, the mark of a great concept album is the ability to write music that can both weave together a narrative and still entertain when isolated.
To try and sum this album up would do it an injustice, it would be better to simply advise you check it out when it releases in April this year, alongside the earlier releases mentioned above to fully piece together what Cities of Mars are building.