A Mountain of Sound: Megafauna’s Maximalist Demands Repeated Plays

Megafauna Maximalist

by Brian J. Audette

While it’s been a long time coming, Megafauna’s new LP Maximalist makes good on the promise displayed by their 2010 debut and then some. Bolstered by the thunder of swaggering, cocksure guitars and proto-metal heaviness, Maximalist is a veritable mountain of sound, expertly mixed and wound tighter than a Swiss watch. Megafauna were always a band that I had been aware of and had listened to on occasion, but they had never really clicked with me. Their earlier recordings, while showing definite potential, always left me wanting and so it was with cautious optimism that I approached their first full-length recording in nearly four years. By the end of the second track (a re-recording of “Hug from a Robot” from the band’s first LP) it was obvious that Megafauna had come a long way toward becoming the band I had hoped they could be.

Similar to fellow Austin hard rocker Laura Larsen from Ume, Megafauna’s Dani Neff is a front woman to contend with no matter your gender. Juxtaposing crisp, sultry vocals with the massive roar of her guitar, Neff’s ’70s soaked sound is the focal point around which the rest of the band rallies. Whether they’re playing classic hard rock riffs like in “This Town” or skewing more progressive and stoned as in “Monsters Sleeping,” on Maximalist Megafauna dominate with a presence that far outweighs their simple three-piece nature.

Generally speaking I tend not to go in for that ’70s hard rock bravado and hazy stoner slosh and while Megafauna draw heavily from that era for the core of their sound, there’s a whole lot more at work as well. For every “Touch the Lion,” with its Zeppelin-esque hazy heaviness, there are two more like the punk tempo’d “Eggs” or the almost poppy cruiser “Time to Go.” its racing beat brightened by a backing choir of “ooh’s” and a collection of major chords. A mildly progressive bent undulates through much of the album as well in songs like “Precious Blood,” oscillating between progressive dirge and Sabbath-like brutality or “Chromatic Fantasy” as the album’s lofty closer. Neff even takes a moment for herself on “Carnie Girl,” a sparse, haunting tune featuring nothing more than vocals and a stripped down guitar.

When all is said and done, Maximalist is more than just a couple of decent tracks, it’s an album worthy of repeated front to back plays. I enjoy when bands take something tried and true like ’70s hard rock, slap a new coat of paint on it, and decorate it with their own unique styles. On Maximalist, Megafauna are embracing the roots of their sound while taking it in their own direction as well. The results resonated with me much more than I expected and that’s enough to make this jaded punk heartily recommend giving Maximalist a listen and keeping an eye out for Megafauna around town.