Cities of Mars make their first appearance at Desertfest following the release of their second album, The Horologist. Also their debut on Ripple Music, it brings their science-fiction narrative to new levels of storytelling even as it pushes their songcraft to ever more weighted and melodic fare.

Sweden’s got a legacy of riffs going back longer than anyone cares to admit they remember, and just because someone tries to bring something new to the mix doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re either going to succeed or that the outcome of their efforts to innovate are going to be worth a shit.

What Cities of Mars bring to that legacy isn’t just their releases-spanning storyline of KGB agent Nadia and secret conspiracy to cover up ancient technology and civilisation on mars. Their sound also finds them in a place between densely-packed grooves and ambitious, progressive atmospherics.

They compromise neither song for story nor story for song, and the balance that results is a style that’s only increasingly their own. They offer little by way of mercy, and if you should happen to be in their sprawling and conceptual path, stay put and be ready to be rolled over. Wouldn’t do you any good to run anyhow.

Words: JJ Koczan