Mental Home

Picture of Mental Home

Vale

Mental Home - Vale ©1997 The End Records
1. Stranger Dove
2. Southern Calm Waters
3. Aevin's Cage
4. The Euphori
5. The Vale
6. My Necklace
7. Christmas Mercy
8. Their Finest Voyage

Normally, when I think of Russia, I think of vodka, those funky hats, and the strange patch on Gorbachev's head, not doom/black metal. So when I received this CD from The End Records, I was mildly surprised that a country that has had such bad economic struggles since attempting a more westernized market would be able to produce metal music that is on par with much of what else is going on around the globe. Perhaps that is just a Western bias, but Mental Home is a very intriguing band.

Blending a traditional metal feel with a sound similiar to Clouds-era Tiamat, Mental Home sculpts eight wandering, doom-ridden tracks that incorporate a lot of those galloping guitars (ala` Iron Maiden) with a more atmospheric edge that could be traced to any number of bands in the gloom/black metal scene (Anathema, My Dying Bride, et al). Nearly all the tracks are between five and eight minutes long; in other words, don't expect to fully absorb yourself in this upon one listen. Mental Home is very gifted in writing complex, ethereal music and it takes awhile to grasp. My only major gripe is singer Sergey's Dmitriev's voice: it begins fairly melodically but as the album goes on, his voice gets raspier and raspier with way too much studio echo causing distraction from the excellent musical backdrop. He is smart enough to vary from whispers to rasps, thus heightening the moods, but it can be a drag. However, that isn't nearly enough to ruin one's enjoyment of the album. If you're into any of the above influences or couldn't get enough of older Tiamat, then you could do a lot worse than digging this one up.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/1998

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Black Art

Mental Home - Black Art ©1998 The End Records
1. Under The Wing (of Gamayun)
2. The Plague Omen
3. Into The Realms Of Marena
4. Silent Remembrance
5. In The Shades Of Inspiration
6. Pagan Freedom
7. Winter Art
8. On A Hand Of The Universe
9. Tides Of Time

Further expanding upon the styles explored on Vale, Russia's Mental Home has delivered a much superior piece of work that should command attention from anyone who has ever been seduced by atmospheric metal. Though on the first listen I wasn't particularly taken in by what I heard, each successive spin has enabled some serious enjoyment of the band is trying to accomplish. Mental Home's sound is probably closest in kin to latter-day Rotting Christ, with more of a spotlight on the keyboard arrangements in the vein of Therion. Tracks like "Winter Art" or "Tides of Time" ooze with somber moods while "Pagan Freedom" has a remarkably catchy melody. (Speaking of which, there is also a CD-Rom bonus of the video of that song. Featuring claymation that is one part The Nightmare Before Christmas and one part Tool, it's a neat little piece that provides some nice visual to the album's strongest track.) I'm still not sold on Sergey Dmitriev's rasp; somehow I picture this music with a stronger vocal presence. But it's a very minor complaint as the band utilizes some lengthy and compelling instrumental passages. I've been playing the heck out of this album since I got it so it should be interesting to see how the band continues to progress down the line.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1998

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Upon The Shores Of Inner Seas

Mental Home - Upon The Shores Of Inner Seas ©2000 Century Media
1. Downstairs
2. Late To Revise
3. Eternal Moan
4. Bliss
5. Against My Will
6. Breakdown
7. Stained
8. Amidst The Waves '99

Upon the Shores of Inner Seas continues the gradual growth and maturation of Russia's Mental Home, taking their sound and honing it ever so slightly. Since their US debut, Vale, a few years ago, the band has slowly become more interesting. This eight song outing finds the band continuing to exercise a dark sound that utilizes a good amount of keyboards and finally finds the band not quite sounding like anyone else. Sergey Dmitriev's vocals are different this time around as he takes on a less raspy but still somewhat throaty approach. They are indeed a bit unusual. Also of note is a somewhat nervous, taut production that adds some strange tension to the music. However, that seems to add something, rather than take away. Mental Home also put a bonefide catchy, memorable song that will stick in your brain matter for hours after hearing it with the semi-melodic "Eternal Moan". None of the other songs here are quite as sticky, but all are above average pieces of work. Mental Home shows an improving sense of guitar and keyboard interplay with melody and song structure. At the very least, this release will appeal to anyone who has checked out the band in the past and fans of dark melodic metal in the vein of older Tiamat. This album also suggests to me that this band, who seems to improve slowly but steadily, is still only going to get better with each new release down the line.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2000

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