Capital cities often spawn very specific socio-economic situations no matter the country, Athens in Greece is no exception. While Greece’s economy is growing after being one of the most heavily hit countries of the European Union’s recent economic crash, the impacts are still being felt heavily. The employment rate is far below most of the leading EU countries at 66.4%, while in Athens there is gentrification to ‘reduce crime’ in the famously left-wing Exarchia neighbourhood as part of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ campaign to prioritise ‘law and order’. This gentrification extends across the city, displacing people and changing the landscapes of neighbourhoods to better reflect the profit margins of investors looking to capitalise on the city’s tourist boom. It’s unsurprising that these circumstances have given rise to a DIY screamo band such as Mavro Gala.
Themes of work and gentrification are some of the key topics being explored on their upcoming album Tenderness (out 27th October), and today we’re delighted to present a premiere for the single “Repetition” from the album. On what is their fourth album, the hard-working Athens band explore ‘themes of bodies worn down by work, finding solidarity with each other through getting older and more vulnerable and getting alienated by watching your city being sucked in a post-gentrification nightmare’. These are every day considerations in major cities that often cloud every facet of life, “Repetition” gives off the impression that the band are overwhelmed by these conditions and won’t put up any longer, while not being afraid to look inwards for the answer.
Musically, “Repetition” takes the expressive and expansive screamo of their previous music with a real precision and power. The vocals are a restrained, deliberately held back bellow throughout giving a feeling of powerlessness within the use of their music as a powerful force. Shouts are forced over the pounding drums and loud bass, with backing vocals adding a harsher layer to support, it takes consideration and feeling to be heard. Distorted guitar adds a further rhythmic layer, simple yet effective in adding texture and power to the track. Stylistically it reminds me of the earlier, vitriolic Birds In Row offerings, taking a DIY punk ethos and force behind that explorative and almost twinkly screamo style.
The title brings to mind the Myth of Sisyphus, working repetitively to very little gain and the band states ‘”Repetition” talks about the patterns that we recognize in ourselves and our behaviors. Patterns that we may try to change, many times without success, feeling stuck in an endless loop of abjection and failure, often resulting in psychosomatic symptoms and self-destructive reflexes’. Beyond the idea of pushing a rock up a hill to see it roll back down, these feelings within our own minds are relatable and palpable. The impacts they have are stratospheric to our beings and we hear a performance that graces this emotional and mental journey with the care and quality that it needs to be truly felt.
Mavro Gala have now reached their fourth album and it’s clear that time as a band as well as time in Athens has sharpened their focus across the board. Tenderness is the band’s first release on Venerate Industries and it’s shaping up to be one for band and label to remember. “Repetition” is a fitting single that sets the scene for an exciting album, detailing the toll of a city and living within it on a band of fierce creatives. Make sure to follow Mavro Gala on Bandcamp and find them on Facebook. Tenderness is available to pre-order now through Venerate Industries.