Dutch rockers Molasses find new beginnings after tragedy on Through the Hollow | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Dutch rockers Molasses find new beginnings after tragedy on Through the Hollow 

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click to enlarge Molasses

Molasses

Ryanne van Dorst

Molasses was born from the ashes of influential Dutch band the Devil’s Blood. Founded in 2006 by guitarist and vocalist Selim Lemouchi (“SL”) and fronted by his sister Farida (“the Mouth of Satan”), they took their name from a Watain song but never went full black metal. Instead they made sweeping, elegant, complex, and ethereal heavy psych informed by occult-rock progenitors such as Coven, Black Sabbath, and Roky Erickson and colored by Selim’s satanism and other spiritual beliefs. He disbanded the group in 2013, released the solo album Earth Air Spirit Water Fire as Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies, and then took his own life in March 2014, just weeks before the Enemies were scheduled to play at Roadburn—the Dutch heavy-music festival where the Devil’s Blood made their live debut in 2008. The Enemies set became a tribute to Selim, and several members of the Devil’s Blood took part before going their own ways musically—some got involved with other Dutch bands, including Dool and Rrrags.

Nearly five years later, Roadburn founder and artistic director Walter Hoeijmakers invited the band’s surviving members—Farida, guitarists Oeds Beydals and Ron van Herpen, and bassist Job van de Zande—to collaborate with other members of the Dutch music scene (including Marcel van de Vondervoort of Astrosoniq and Matthijs Stronks of Donnerwetter) for a special commissioned performance at the fest’s 2019 edition. They called the group Molasses, after the final track from Earth Air Spirit Water Fire, and quickly realized they weren’t done making music together. Their first release, the 2019 seven-inch “Mourning Haze” b/w “Drops of Sunlight,” is a haunting, majestic acknowledgment of profound loss, but their expansive debut album, Through the Hollow, sounds like the work of musicians who’ve been chafing at the bit for a long time and are finally able to unleash their potential. Though the Devil’s Blood are a hard act to follow, Molasses draw you in immediately with the 11-minute title track of Through the Hollow, which opens the album by walking the line between progressive metal and a more romantic, mythical sound that weaves and dodges and surges behind the cavalry charge of Farida’s rich, powerful voice. “Get Out From Under” is a jaggedly heavy piece of dark, wailing blues-rock with an anthemic undertone and lyrics about survival and endurance. The long-form “Formless Hands” has a regal, entrancing shuffle, almost like a sharper-edged Can, and builds to a ritualistic peak that manifests the bandmates’ occult-rock history in a dazzlingly fresh and urgent way. Despite their links to the past, Molasses are confidently their own thing.   v

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