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The best kept secret in music


Marat's appeal is apparent: Here are four guys from notable local bands of yore, coming together at last to give their album rock-inspired, testosterone-induced reading on the state of modern rock. And their interpretations of frontman John Ensslin's work are convincing, at least on the surface. Ensslin is a guttural vocalist, passionately bearing the weight of his own heartaches and misgivings in a scream n' sing hybrid that somehow sounds like Eddie Vedder fronting a dark power pop act. Michael Rank's guitar work is intelligent and inspired. He snaps out of dreamy, reverbed riffs throughout "Apache" to return with shards of dissonance, his bent strings putting the immediacy and intensity in place during one of Ensslin's more reserved attempts. His playing comes packed with echoes of the Pacific Northwest, too: the feedback reckoning of Mike McCready creeps in for "Crush," and the chorded crunch of Mark Arm slams down full-throttle during "Straw Dog." During "Salt," it sounds as though Soundgarden's Kim Thayil is listed in the album credits, but--moments later--the guitars shift into a solo that nearly any teenager with a Fender could identify as being the immortal "Stairway to Heaven" break. The echoes are occasionally overbearing, but as Ensslin puts it during the same song, "All God's children wanna rock and roll."
- The Independent

Marat is sort of a regional supergroup, made up of North Carolina music vets from Snatches of Pink, Dillon Fence, the Veldt and other local faves. Fronted by Michael Rank's muscular guitar and John Ensslin's bratty sneer, Marat puts enough lipstick onto its grimy face to give tunes like "She," "Startime" and "Salt" a perfectly snotty edge. For Marat, grit + glam = good times. Michael Toland [buy it] - High Bias

Marat (MoRisen Records)
Though he doesn’t possess a broad range and his timbre fails to distinguish him from the hoards of other modern rock shouters, Marat singer John Ensslin is still an extraordinary vocalist. He can be as brash as Chris Robinson, as reflective as John Lennon, as angry as James Hetfield, as silly as David Lee Roth or as low-down dirty as Iggy Pop. Unfortunately, the band and the songs are strictly workmanlike, plowing the usual hard riffs, innocuous lyrics and driving rhythms. “Startime” is as close Marat comes to a potential hit on this outing, forging a pop melody atop a time-tested descending chord pattern peppered with a shrill falsetto harmony that’s somewhat engaging. However, when the smoke clears on Marat, it’s the singer, not the song. -Tom Semioli
- Amplifier


LP 2003
MoRisen Records


Feeling a bit camera shy


A newly formed four-piece rock act is about to up the ante in this so-called new rock revolution, and surprisingly they don't wear vintage threads, sport mod haircuts, or hail from Detroit, NYC or some cold country with fjords. They're from the South. Chapel Hill, North Carolina to be exact, and their name is MARAT.

What this uncompromising group does do is create guitar heavy rock 'n' roll packed with hi-amp riffs, incisive lyrics and a provocative flair that is as alluring as it is brash and unforgiving. Getting it done is a frontman without equal and a band with raw, unmistakable talent and a perverse command of dynamics. MARAT delivers rock 'n' roll that's stripped down, then shot from the soul, and like the world we live in, simultaneously chaotic and balanced, sophisticated but primal, dark though enlightening, and psychedelic yet very, very real.

And while MARAT is mindful of rock's fundamentals, their music – as evidence on the exceptional debut album MARAT - is revolutionary. Song after song, MARAT explores and discovers new ways to impress upon you that this is some of the best rock 'n' roll you've heard in recent years. It's never the same trick twice and that is a refreshing concept in an era where rock has allegedly been 'revived' but, just as it comes back to life, is being snuffed out by an onslaught of bands who wear the right clothes, act the right way, say the right things, but when it comes to songs, offer very little in the fresh ideas department.

For MARAT, fresh ideas are boundless and come by way of the remarkable individuals that make up the band. They are, in one world, a reclusive rock n’ roll outlaw (Michael Rank, guitar), an enigmatic enthusiast of 19th century novels (John Ensslin, vocals), a soft-spoken gear junkie (Desmond White, bass) and a gregarious globe trotter with a qualified opinion on just about everything (Scott Carle, drums). In another world, MARAT is made up of some of the chief architects of North Carolina's alternative rock scene, with each a pivotal member of such NC rock groups as Snatches of Pink, What Peggy Wants, Teasing the Korean, Dillon Fence and Veldt.

It would be a mistake though to peg MARAT as some kind of North Carolina indie rock supergroup. That would focus too much on their individual pasts rather than collective future. As a history, let's just say that the members have been crossing each other's path over the years, decided to band together in 2002 and have since instilled hope in North Carolina rock fans who have been fortunate enough to experience the carnal and aural bliss of one of MARAT's rare live gigs.

For the future, just listen to MARAT's label debut, experience them live and be ready to encounter the kind of rock 'n' roll you've been praying for.