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Olympus Mons celebrates 20 years along with new album

click on to enlarge A band plays on a stage

Picture: Erin Bechtold

Olympus Mons

Excessive-school music tasks don’t usually outlive freshman 12 months of faculty. Nonetheless rocking after 20 years collectively, Olympus Mons has managed to interrupt the mildew. The four-piece celebrated its 20-year anniversary final month and just lately launched one other album.

Audiences will get a dwell style of the brand new album No Lights Left however the Solar when Olympus Mons performs it on Fri., Dec. 16 at Brillobox. Dropped on Dec. 13, No Lights Left however the Solar marks the third album from the Pittsburgh-born and raised band, and its first launch in 10 years.

For a band that has been round so long as Olympus Mons, three albums could look like an underachievement. Or perhaps it’s the key to their staying collectively this lengthy.

“I don’t suppose we ever had grand aspirations of ‘make it or break it,’” says bassist Mike Bechtold, who performs within the band together with his twin brother, keyboardist Brian. “It was extra simply, we’re having fun with what we’re doing and the experiences we’re getting with it. Simply good pals getting collectively, making some music, generally enjoying it out.”

The Bechtolds, together with drummer Kurt Threlfall and singer Mike Ummer, launched the band in highschool over a shared love of music creation. Their previous two albums, Olympus Mons in 2008 and The Mink Trapper’s Daughter in 2012, established their area rock, shoegaze-inspired sound.

The brand new album was conceived over three wintry days in November 2019 at an Airbnb on Somerset County’s Indian Lake. The setting’s icy, gloomy ambiance seeped into their recording course of, which befell earlier than the beginning of the pandemic.

“I’d say over three quarters of the album is sort of melancholic,” says Threlfall. “It sort of appeared to predict what was coming, not only for us, however the entire world.”

No Lights Left however the Solar builds off the band’s backlog of noisy songs pushed by The Treatment-style guitar melodies right into a extra mature songwriting perspective. Over the album’s seven tracks, Ummer drones and wails over regular bass strains. Suppose U2 enviornment rock however for a dimly lit dive bar.

The press launch for the brand new album describes Olympus Mons as “slightly reclusive.” In individual, Pittsburgh Metropolis Paper finds them much less withdrawn than anticipated, as they share tales about school recording classes fueled by Evening Lite beer, and hanging present flyers on gentle posts within the freezing chilly.

The Pittsburgh music scene appears to be like lots totally different than once they first began, and so they’ll be the primary to confess that they’re behind the occasions in relation to social media (they solely just lately launched their Twitter). However since highschool, their focus has been on merely enjoying good music.

“I feel we’ve been fairly constant,” says Threlfall. “I don’t suppose we may do that with anybody else. It’s both the 4 of us or nothing.”

The band acquired its begin kicking it at golf equipment and bars within the South Aspect, shaking arms with promoters and getting in at small native venues whereas they have been nonetheless 18 and 19 years previous. A lot of the locations the place they performed — Howlers, 31st Road Pub, The Rex Theater, Z Lounge — have gone stomach up as a brand new wave of Pittsburgh venues takes their place.

“Folks nonetheless keep in mind these days. All the things was once phrase of mouth,” says Threlfall. “I’m sort of struggling to adapt to the brand new issues. All the things appears to be far more social-media heavy.”

Although the music scene has modified, the band’s chemistry stays the identical.

“All of us discovered to play collectively,” says Bechtold. “We’ve had folks come over and jam, nevertheless it by no means appears to fairly match chemistry-wise. It doesn’t actually really feel the identical.”

The brand new album begins with “Automate,” a hovering intro monitor underscored by Threlfall’s pounding drums. Ummer’s vocals, initially soft-spoken, stand up and over the tune by the top refrain, reverbing in swirling guitar trails.

The following monitor, “The Faintest Sounds,” erupts into an attention-grabbing guitar melody earlier than sliding into the vocals. “If I used to be the one one/On the underside of the moon,” sings Ummer. The tune picks up with a far-away-sounding wail on the refrain: “The faintest sounds/They shake the bottom” serves as an apt metaphor for devastating on a regular basis feelings and a neat summation of the band’s deceptively layered melodies.

Regardless of Olympus Mons’ gloomy aesthetic and heavy sound, the album closes with two future-looking tracks, the intense and jangly “Wishing You Nicely” and the contemplative “A Celebrated Triumph.” Backed by a fast keyboard riff and underlined by Threlfall’s regular drumbeat on the tried-and-true Pearl drum equipment he’s been utilizing since ninth grade, “A Celebrated Triumph” ponders conclusions and hard-earned moments of relaxation with “There’s not lights left however the solar/That is my salutation/So draw the curtain for the ovation.”

Is that this the final bow for the 20-year-old band? Little likelihood. So long as it stays enjoyable, making music collectively received’t cease for a very long time, Bechtold says.

“It’s an odd factor — getting along with your mates, simply being part of one thing else. Being part of a staff nearly,” Bechtold says. “For us, it’s by no means been out forcing something. We’re trying ahead to simply holding it going.”

Olympus Mons with Shade and DJ Mike Cunningham. 9 p.m. Fri., Dec. 16. Brillobox. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $10.

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