My Diligence – The Matter, Form and Power Review

Allow me to be contrite for a moment. Three and a half years ago I casually dropped a 3.5 rating on My Diligence’s second album, Sun Rose. I’m not too proud to tell you that, after circling back to the album many times since, I definitely had my overrating cap on. At best Sun Rose was a 3.0, more likely closer to a 2.5. But I was somehow smitten at the time and threw caution to the wind. I’ll admit it now: I was too enamored of the strong songs, and ignored the chaff. Now here we are with The Matter, Form and Power, and I am determined to approach this stoner-prog platter with open eyes and an even keel. How is that going to work out for this Belgian trio?

“The Matter, Form and Power” opens the album, a slow maelstrom of a song with thick layers of guitar and bass. It’s almost majestic in nature, as crushing as stoner rock can get. For some reason the band throws harsh vocals into the mix, and they don’t really help the song at all. Both “On the Wire” and “Sail to the Red Light” are excellent Torche-core. “On the Wire” takes some time to get to the first verse, but when it does the verse lights up the room. The song features a simple earworm of a riff in the middle, again like the opener it sounds huge, but also very exuberant. Is the song a bit long? Sure, but not horribly so. “Sail to the Red Light” opens with a muted riff that quickly blossoms as the band gets right to the point. Harsh vocals pop up again, and don’t make the most sense. A set of harmony vocals would be far more effective. Vocal stylings aside, this is a great starting trio of songs.

Unfortunately, My Diligence can’t keep it up, and the next few songs drag by in less than memorable fashion. They are long, gloomy, doomy songs, lacking in hooks and again strangely augmented with harsh vocals. “Embers” almost regains the form of earlier work, but the end is some weird hardcore thing that totally doesn’t work. And when a song is three minutes long with one minute of strangeness at the end, it’s basically ruined. “Elasmotherium” is the last and longest song. Again doomy and epic, this would go over great in a live setting, with the swathes of feedback atop and chugging riff in between the verses. The stellar arrangement keeps us fully engaged across all ten minutes, and make me wish a couple of earlier songs were this strong.

Production values remain the same as on Sun Rose, with perhaps a slightly more deft touch in the mastering process. The My Diligence sound is big, with a wall of guitars and a massive rhythm section. Cédric Fontaine’s clean vocals are as charismatic as ever, as reminiscent of Torche as on previous recordings. The problem is the random, too often used harsh vocals. Do My Diligence want to sound like The Ocean at times? Are they evolving (devolving?) into a sludge act? The harsh vocals don’t help anything, and try as I might, nine listens into the album I’m still not sold.

The opening trio of songs on The Matter, Form and Power stand up to anything My Diligence have written. Massive-sounding, catchy hooks, mostly-strong vocals; they are an excellent start. Sadly, the band can’t keep it going the rest of the way, and interest wanes considerably before the final track somewhat redeems the album. The decision to augment most of the material with harsh vocals is a puzzling one that doesn’t pay off. My Diligence continue to show they have what it takes to produce some very cool stoner rock, they just need to build up some consistency.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Mottow Soundz
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 3, 2022

« »