Like Marmite, The Earls Of Mars are a band sure to divide opinion wildly. That they supported arch noise legend Boyd Rice on their first gig, toured with Orange Goblin, have a double bass player and have recorded an album all within their first year is commendable. That they make jazz-flecked baroque’n’roll with titles like Cornelius Itchybah and Mr Osbourne’s Hazelnuts slightly less so.
Wackiness can be difficult to swallow and though The Astronomer Pig is like Captain Beefheart massacring early Maiden and the quartet’s dark jazz undercurrents are deftly delivered, your opinion on them will depend on whether the idea of IT consultants doing King Diamond on X-Factor auditions, scat singing, The Darkness tackling Hammer horror or just Tenacious D in general are deemed Good Things.
There’s no doubting their ability: The Ballad Of Ben Ayre and the lurching Poor Whore’s Petition rock with evil intent and their wild abandon and ability to engage is commendable. Though this reviewer thinks that Marmite tastes like the scrapings of dead horses’ hooves, this may yet be a grower.