The Mass CD reviews [Crucial Blast]

Music Reviews
The Mass CD reviews [Crucial Blast]
Sep 13, 2005, 06:09

THE MASS City of Dis CD THE MASS Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness CD

Not to be too smug or reductionary… the interweaving of heavy metal and progressive rock impulses is an entirely natural “man oeuvre” since the two originate from a common root. That source is the psychedelicized budding of Anglicized blues-rock (“psychedelia”) indicating a shedding of rigid stylistic boundaries and a willy-nilly syncretism that yielded both spectacular and laughable results. The nature of experiments is that some succeed, while most fail.

So The Mass represents a return to that nexus where the two genres diverged, but informed by three decades of progress each has made genre. Happily they decided to work with the successes (not so obvious a decision: Dungen, for instance, employs the dead ends, excesses and bad jokes to concoct his aesthetic—and it shows!)

What's most crucial is the manner in which The Mass knits the styles together. On City of Dis they intercut 'em. The vocabularies at hand mainly comprise skewed post-blues riffing with the metal licks being slightly less involved though oftentimes played at blinding speed whereas the prog-rock content is relatively more abstruse and intricate and underlined with pointedly dissonant chords.  On “La Porc” The Mass click back and forth at dazzling velocity with awesome dexterity. The high speed juxtaposing of melodic and rhythmic elements makes for an overall texture that's familiar yet unsettling. With “Trapped Under Ice” the montage is more leisurely and expansive; saxophone leads the ensemble through a series of rhythmic barrel rolls that grow ever more complex and convoluted. On other tracks, the group lays back executing extended passages of atmospheric playing with sax again moving to the forefront. Etc. As their label claims—City of Dis comprises a nice blending of early King Crimson with thrash metal.

With their second album Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness The Mass move closer to a smoother synthesis of the two modes. Instead of speedy jump cutting between clearly differentiated styles we find the two lexicons influencing one another and producing a common denominator that's hooky, somewhat abstracted yet earthy and immediate enough to shake booties and set fists a–pumping throughout.  [Crucial Blast]

-Howard Wuelfing

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