Embarking on The Pilgrimage

Local metal ladies Mares of Thrace take on the world

An ageless tale plucked from the annals of ancient mythology the namesake of Calgary’s Mares of Thrace evokes imagery of mad man-eating horses driven into a foaming sea by the son of Zeus or the exceedingly hideous daughters of Diomedes who raped and murdered unwary strangers. Truth be told guitarist-vocalist Thérèse Lanz and percussionist Stefani MacKichan have discovered more harmonious means of unhinging modern civilization. Admittedly smitten with bands like Cursed Jesus Lizard The Melvins Sleep and Neurosis Trez and Stef cultivated their shared affection for all things dark and heavy in their formative years performing in local punk acts Honeyrocket and Killborn.

“It all started back when my sister and I were looking for a drummer for our punk band. That was probably around 2002” Trez recalls. “We found an ad in the calgarypunk.com classifieds that said something like: ‘15 year-old Christian female jazz drummer seeks female pop group.’ My first thought was that there are no shitty players in jazz and so began our dubious affiliation!”

Opening for Fugazi at the tender age of 19 was definitely a career-high for Trez but it was only the first indication of the Promethean heights the intrepid singer-songwriter-guitarist is capable of achieving. A decade later she and Stef have signed a multi-album deal under the banner of Canada’s perennial hardcore label Sonic Unyon Records. Following in the hoof prints of label-mates Voivod Kittens and Shallow North Dakota Mares of Thrace run their crushing melodies into the ground and drive their points home with sinister technical accuracy. An unlikely union of fire and ice the dynamic nature of the band’s two duelling personalities shines through in the forward action and intoxicating undercurrents that coalesce on their sophomore LP The Pilgrimage due out April 24. Confident with the thought of branching out into new realms Mares of Thrace also recently wrapped up filming a video for their pulverizing single “The Perpetrator.”

“Stylistically I’d say that we’re barely related to what we’ve done with our previous bands. There’s a certain kind of austerity that happens when you only have two people in a band” says Trez. “Around early 2000 avant-garde metal and slow heavy stuff started coming onto my musical radar and I knew I wanted to do a project that went in that direction. Funny thing is Mares of Thrace started off as a stripped-down side-project that nobody was supposed to hear. Sheer self-indulgence and the freedom of noodling around with riffs in the basement. That messing around eventually wound up to our EP The Moulting . Who would have imagined what that initial momentum would lead to?”

Brushing off suggestions that the decision to operate as a two-piece is anything other than a pragmatic bit of decision making Trez and Stef jetted off to Chicago to lay down tracks for their brand new heavy metal ringer The Pilgrimage . Tempering Trez’s fiery impulses with her metronome-steady work ethic drummer Stef provides a rock solid skeleton upon which the lithe guitarist weaves a thunderous shroud of reverb-soaked textures.

“If I’m her security blanket then she’s my corset!” says Trez of her counterpart. “Stef is a craftsman so to speak. She’s very by the book and very schooled. I’m the opposite. I’m all about being sloppy.”

An odd couple who make beautiful wild and sometimes uncontrolled noise together Stef and Trez are looking forward to releasing The Pilgrimage at Broken City and feeling optimistic that heavy metal is shrugging off its status of as the red-headed step-child of Calgary’s musical sub-genres.