Seb Alvarez of Meth leaves his comfort zone in noise-centric collective Virgin MotherBrad Cohanon June 14, 2022 at 11:00 am

Chicago group Meth are known for their big and burly scorched-earth mash-up of mathcore, noise rock, and ambient music, which they execute with surgical precision. At the center of their dissonant sprawl is vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Seb Alvarez, who started Meth as a solo project before developing the current six-piece iteration. The band put out a compilation of old B sides and demos two years ago, but they haven’t released an album of new material since 2019’s Mother of Red Light. Since 2020, Alvarez has turned his focus toward a new vision: Virgin Mother. As he did with Meth, he launched the project on his own before transforming it into a full-on band, but that’s where the similarities end. Virgin Mother is an experimental-leaning beast whose glitchy maelstrom swaps Meth’s calculated sensibilities for punch-drunk ecstasy.

That anything-goes mindset is at the heart of the three EPs Alvarez plans to self-release this year. The first, last month’s Marrow, is a breakneck slice of buzz-saw hardcore that recalls east-coast peers Full of Hell; it features Alvarez on guitar in a lineup that includes members of Frail Body and the Number 12 Looks Like You. The second and latest, Dialect, which Alvarez describes to me over email as a “complete step out of my comfort zone,” stays true to Virgin Mother’s MO of experimenting with new genres. Its four songs transport you to a whole other plane of brutal sound, a warped mind-meld built on propulsive programmed beats, miscellaneous junkyard samples, and a gnarly array of textures, tones, and patterns designed for eardrum-bursting effect. For Dialect, Alvarez leaves the speak-scream vocalizations to friends from Knoll, Retirement Party, and Sender/Receiver while he wrangles knob-twiddling din and synth splatter. The aural horror of “Sunder” (with its nails-on-chalkboard squeal) and “The Thing About the Quiet Man” recalls the harrowing clatter and shriek of early Wolf Eyes; on the beats-driven “Prominent Person(s) Dead in Plane Crash” and “Melt,” Alvarez and company channel the thumping techno-damaged doom-and-gloom grind of the Body. With the third EP, Woe, slated for August release and a full-length, Mourning Ritual, set for late September, Virgin Mother are becoming a force to be reckoned with in the noise and metal communities—and they’re doing it at a furiously prolific clip.

Virgin Mother’s Dialect is available through Bandcamp.

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