September 19, 2023

Formed in Paris in 2015 by Dublin-based guitarist Gary Kelly, MOLYBARON are steadily earning themselves a reputation for thinking outside the box and defying expectations. Over the course of two subtly radical records, 2017’s self-titled debut and 2021’s acclaimed The Mutiny, this eclectic quartet have bent and broken the usual rules of rock in the way they effortlessly create accessible modern Metal that is yet more varied than the usual and somehow richly symphonic in its composition. In 2023, they return with their third and most fervently diverse record to date, Something Ominous: further evidence that there’s not many bands that can compete for originality and boundary-pushing at this level – for me the nearest competitors being Empyre and O.R.K? Between them, they perhaps define Modern Heavy Rock.

MOLYBARON are: Gary Kelly (vocals/guitar), Sebastian De Saint-Angel (bass), Camille Greneron (drums) and Florian Soum (lead guitar),

When MOLYBARON released The Mutiny in 2021, the world was still reeling from the effects of a global pandemic. Nonetheless, the album struck its mark with ease, garnering countless glowing reviews and comparisons to the likes of System Of A Down, Tool and Muse. Two years on, Something Ominous reveals a band that have sharpened their focus and found their groove. Comprising ten succinct and characterful songs, which range from thunderous acts of aggression to noirish, mutant balladry, MOLYBARON’s third full-length is invigorating and immersive in equal measure.

“I don’t think our sound can be defined by one genre,” says Gary. “It’s certainly not by design. I write and produce all the music in the band, but I’m strange – I never really listen to music. I have no idea what’s hot or what’s not these days. I suppose this makes it easier for me to create songs, I’m not trying to mirror any one style, I just write as it comes to me, probably based on what I hear floating in the ether; in the cinema, on the TV, on the elevator, it really doesn’t matter!”

very French imagery!

A rousing, emotionally complex splurge of riffs and melodies, Something Ominous is an album that eschews convention in favour of an instinctive, liberated approach to metal song-writing. That ethos is also reflected in Kelly’s lyrics, which continue with the real world themes and ferocious intelligence of previous albums, while zooming in on the challenges of mortality itself.

“In general, a lot of my lyrics tend to focus on mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, but I also write about political corruption, collusion between state and corporate media, big Pharma, big tech and systematic censorship” Kelly explains. “This new album explores aging and the acute awareness of time passing by – the anticipation of losing the ones you love, lingering regrets about precious time spent on unimportant things, the fear of being old and alone.”

The ten tracks are introduced by the title track, a sinuous, anthemic cruncher of a curtain raiser. This is “heavy Prog” almost operatically melded to metal in exhilarating fashion! Kelly’s vocals enhance the sense of drama and theatre and set the scene for the rest of the set.

Set Alight continues this style of groove metal, an echoing, haunting hymn of togetherness seared with some stonking guitar work. Much is said about this band’s collective creativity but this track underlines their individual prowess as wonderful musicians!

Billion Dollar Shakedown again has a sense of being the metal soundtrack to some dark opera – it conjures images of dark creatures on a cavernous stage-set? It’s only 3:40 minutes long but it somehow feels like a much longer epic! Breakdown is almost poppy in comparison, yet remaining spiky, huge chorus lines vying with softer verses woven with keys.

Anyway returns to this sense of Opera – I keep getting a vibe of a metal take on the songs in Les Miserables! And always that relentless roller-coaster of a rhythm section thundering on…replete with a gorgeously sweeping burst of a solo. As a counter-point, Daylight in Darkness has a lovely melancholy to it as the mood slows and calms – perhaps more than any other this song reveals the full elegance, hidden depths and subtlety of Kelly’s song-writing. I guess you could call it a modern ballad, but that still recalls a sense of timelessness about it, underscored by yet another short but sumptuous lead solo.

Dead on Arrival showcases the poly-rhythmic ruthlessness of the band as they effortlessly ratchet up the intensity, while Pendulum is a show-stopping metal melodrama. These are epic tales in the telling! Reality Show is the latest single and video from the album, just one viewing will convince you of the power, nay majesty of their togetherness in performance and projection – a wonderful track. Vampires as a final offering then confirms their musical creativity and hugely anthemic melodies, and again the emotion and power in Kelly’s vocals is, dare I say, awesome! See the second, absolutely gripping, video below for evidence!

With a settled line-up of Gary Kelly, Sebastian De Saint-Angel, Camille Greneron and Florian Soum, this is the sound of a great band becoming even greater – Something Ominous has grit and grandeur in abundance. Above all else, Something Ominous represents the almost Operatic blossoming of MOLYBARON’s unique sound and the cementing of their reputation as one of the most idiosyncratic bands around. Now that the world has opened back up and seems to be operating within normal parameters again, the band are finally able to launch a full-scale campaign, in pursuit of the hearts and minds of open-minded music lovers everywhere – give this a whirl, you won’t be disappointed!!