Mars Red Sky: ‘Dawn of the Dusk’ Album Review

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Achingly, hauntingly beautiful and deeply emotional, Dawn of the Dusk is the best Mars Red Sky record since their debut. The attention to detail is impeccable, and even tiny features like the recurring motif from “Trap Door” and the rush of sound carrying us from the close of the album to the record’s introduction only elevate the experience even further.

Written byPATRICK SCHOBER for Monster Riff (READ HERE)

If you asked me to rattle off my all-time top-10 albums of the underground, I’d eventually mention Mars Red Sky’s 2011 self-titled debut. 

With endless waves of fuzz, hypnotic melodies, and booming bass lines, Mars Red Sky is a flawless debut near the epitome of what blended Stoner-Space-Psych can sound like. 

It was an impressive start for the band. 

But I don’t think they’ve been able to capture that same emotional depth in subsequent albums. I’m reminded of that Elvis Costello line (though its origins may go far before him): “…you have 20 years to write your first album and you have six months to write your second one.”

MRS never had to rush an album in six months, but they really set a high bar for themselves on their debut. I was never sure they’d be able to reach it again. 

Until now. 

Dawn of the Dusk is a landmark album. 

With its massive Doom tones, unpredictable vocals, and signature fuzz, Dawn of the Dusk is the best MRS effort since their debut. 

About Mars Red Sky

Mars Red Sky Band Photo

Mars Red Sky is a French Stoner Psych band that first started in 2007. Its members are:

  • Julien Pras – Guitar, Vocals
  • Jimmy Kinast – Bass
  • Mathieu Gazeau – Drums

With Dawn of the Dusk, Helen Ferguson of Queen of the Meadow provided support on “Maps of Inferno” and “Heavenly Bodies.” Additional guitar tracking was provided by Julien at Mad Reed studio in the band’s hometown of Bordeaux, France

The album was produced, recorded, and mixed by Benjamin Mandeau at Cryogène Studio in Bègles, France. It was mastered by Ladislav Agabekov at Caduceus Studio in Gimel, Switzerland. Artwork was created by Carlos Olmo.

‘Dawn of the Dusk’ Album Review

Tracks: 8
Length: 39:52
Release Date: December 8, 2023
Label: Mars Red Sound & Vicious Circle

Track 1: Break Even

“Break Even” kicks off the album with a mountain of MRS fuzz. While there’s a tinge of Doom in the guitar tones and the riff in the verse, “Break Even” is undeniably Mars Red Sky’s unique brand of Stoner Psych Rock. 

With a catchy chorus and a captivating guitar solo, “Break Even” has all the ingredients for a tremendous opening track. 

Track 2: Maps of Inferno (Featuring Queen of the Meadow)

In April of 2023, Mars Red Sky released an EP with Folk project Queen of the Meadow. “Maps of Inferno” is the title track from the EP, and while it has all of the elements of an MRS track, Helen Ferguson’s vocals make this sound like an entirely different band. Check out the Maps of Inferno EP to learn more. 

Track 3: The Final Round

Bassist Jimmy Kinast takes over lead vocal duties on “The Final Round,” and it’s a powerful change. While not necessarily “better” or “worse” than Julien Pras’ vocals, Kinast’s voice simply adds a different enchanting variable to the MRS equation. 

As a song, “The Final Round” relies on that typical MRS shroud of Space Rock mystery, and it’s absolutely captivating. 

Track 4: A Choir of Ghosts

“A Choir of Ghosts” is definitely worth discussing at length (but we’ll keep it brief for our purposes today). A return to vintage Mars Red Sky but with Doom-ier undertones, “A Choir of Ghosts” is an instrumental track that works as an interlude by riding a singular gloomy emotion through its 3+ minutes. 

Its placement is perfect here. After three tracks with three different singers, this is the band’s opportunity to reset and return back to the classic Mars Red Sky lineup. 

Track 5: Carnival Man

“Carnival Man” calls to mind King Buffalo’s Regenerator for one simple reason: It’s unusually bright and hopeful. Contrasting the deep and dark low ends of “A Choir of Ghosts,” “Carnival Man” is uncharacteristically inspirational in its lush chorus. 

Track 6: Trap Door

Running less than 50 seconds, “Trap Door” is over before you realize it. This lovely little instrumental track leads perfectly into the crashing introduction of “Slow Attack.” 

Track 7: Slow Attack

“Slow Attack” explodes out of the soothing chords of “Trap Door,” jarring the listening to attention. Despite the surprise, “Slow Attack” is (appropriately enough) a typical MRS medium-paced head-nodder with a massive riff that propels the song forward like the ocean tide, falling away before blasting forward once again.

Track 8: Heavenly Bodies

With an introduction that’s nearly identical to “Trap Door,” “Heavenly Bodies” adds a layer of haunting vocals (courtesy of Helen Ferguson) and percussion to really stand out. As the song builds and builds, it eventually sounds less like a Mars Red Sky track and more like a Sigur Rós song—especially with the wall of experimental sound at the album’s conclusion.

Quick note: That rush of sound at the end continues into the intro of “Break Even,” so the entire album is a beautiful loop.

Final Thoughts On ‘Dawn of the Dusk’

Final Score: 9/10

Standout Tracks: “Break Even,” “Slow Attack,” and “Heavenly Bodies”

Pros: Achingly, hauntingly beautiful and deeply emotional, Dawn of the Dusk is the best Mars Red Sky record since their debut. 

The attention to detail is impeccable, and even tiny features like the recurring motif from “Trap Door” and the rush of sound carrying us from the close of the album to the record’s introduction only elevate the experience even further.

Cons: While there’s plenty to love on this record, there are a few head-scratching moments. Using three different vocalists on the first three tracks, for example, makes the first third of the record feel like a compilation album instead of a record from a single band, which is inherently distracting. Still, this complaint isn’t damning; Dawn of the Dusk is a phenomenal effort.

Learn More About Mars Red Sky

To learn more about Mars Red Sky, check them out on BandcampYouTube, or social media (Facebook or Instagram).  




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