In what seems to be a common trait year by year, its final creative throes provides an encounter which pretty much blows all before it out of the water. This year we have been overexcited by two latecomers in fact, Wolver’s sensational new album and now the second full-length from Cleveland outfit Mollo Rilla, an equally thrilling and irresistible encounter.
Viva El Camino is a slab of fascination and unpredictability, a kaleidoscopic adventure revelling in the imagination and diverse sound its creators conjure with. Like the release also mentioned, the album is as much a web of storytelling as it is a lure of intrigue as senses entwining incitement hungrily gets under the skin. Similarly it is a release thick in eclectic sound and invention which is hard to pin down for you but so easy to loudly roar about.
Mollo Rilla is the creation of main lyricist and songwriter/guitarist Marco Ciofani who from writing songs for and with a host of artists around Nashville returned to his home town to create his own adventure. Subsequently joined by keyboardist Simeon Ruple, bassist Austin Adams, and drummer Joey Shannon, Mollo Rilla emerged in 2017. A self-titled debut album was self-released in 2019 to keen support and acclaim, a release seeded in desert and stoner rock but already hinting at the broader flavouring, styles, and invention now fully uncaged within Viva El Camino.
The band’s second album instantly had attention seized as The Raven sends waves of sound through ears, a dramatic coaxing which is as seductive as it is a kind of warning of the senses disrupting things to come. Once an intoxicating wire escapes the guitar, submission was as good as complete, sealed once Ciofani’s just as dramatic and gripping vocals danced on the imagination. The track is pure flirtation, stoner nurtured grooves and progressively melodic enterprise hungrily teasing as riffs and rhythms harass with that unpredictable trait already in abundance in sound and voice let alone invention.
The stunning start is more than matched by El Camino, a track which also offers tantalising bait before galloping through ears with lustful riffs and rhythmic incitement, manipulation as potent within vocals and the song’s addictive character. To be honest addiction was found in every nook and cranny within the album, this track epitomising that compulsion and the growing dependency daily on the goodness of the song and Viva El Camino generally.
Night Fang did nothing to hold back that craving, its heavier and moodier presence a spiralling temptation devouring ears and appetite. Though it is easy to suggest the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age, Muse and maybe Faith No More as distant references, nothing truly relates to the tapestries created within the record and a track which nags at the listener like a canine with a bone as it incites lusty participation.
The following Pendelum simply raises the already heady heights of the album; its senses niggling exploits dark and devious, at times reminding of Raketkanon as noise and melodic intimation entangle in a theatre of imagination and sound. Like a predator prowling the senses, the song proved inescapable slavery as too did the glorious Lock & Load. Our favourite track is rockabilly sown, dark rock infested and virulently insatiable, indeed just as inescapably addictive. Its animated stride and nagging is reminiscent of the prowess found in eighties UK band The Woodentops and just as catchy, the weaving of the guitar fifties rock ‘n’ roll sown and the complete surge of the rousing escapade a rebel rousing of the spirit.
A calmer seduction comes with Mike Angelo, a croon of smoky lit temptation and jazzy serenading, Ciofani only confirming his vocal irresistibility while Let Go Pt.1 offers its own theatrical rock majesty with more than a hint of Muse to its nature. No surprises though, that it soon builds its own unique landscape of textures and sound bound in an infectiousness which is as rapacious as it is riveting and a drama just as thickly woven within successor, Bliss. It too finds inspiration in sounds from the past, its surf scented sighs and intimation soaked breaths caresses for the imagination. Ciofani’s voice too delves in the inspirations of old school crooners, his falsetto twists as Frankie Valli as Matt Bellamy spiced.
Led by the ever compelling keys of Ruple, Rage The Day snarls and seduces with equal dexterity, the rhythmic prowess of Adams and Shannon a puppeteer to limbs and muscles as vocals and guitar enterprise bounds the imagination. In nothing but, the track is a major highlight which had us roaring during and after.
Closing out with the transfixing acoustic hug of Let Go Pt. 2, from start to finish Viva El Camino had us enthralled and greedy like few other encounters this year. The album is simply glorious and Mollo Rilla an itch which cannot be denied and only more insatiably scratched hereon in.
Viva El Camino is out now via Seeing Red Records; available @ https://mollorilla.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 17/12/2020