Mass Worship is a band I was brand new to before given the chance to review them. For “genre nerds,” I might put this into the groove metal territory with bits of hardcore influence. At first listen this didn’t seem like something that would be up my alley particularly, but gave it several fair listens through, and I didn’t hate this album at all. In fact, upon second listen I greatly enjoyed it. The super dirgey guitars aren’t exactly something I would seek out myself, but then after understanding the context of the groovey, chuggy riffs coupled with the droney dissonant melodic sections, I was massively intrigued.
This is something, I would guess, that would be excellent to see live, the breaks with vocal lead in queues are stellar and even got me nodding my head in rhythm on several occasions. The groove metal-type rhythms make up their own sideways type of melody, which is something I didn’t pick up on until a few listens in and was a delectable layer to discover. Despite the hardcore-ish dissonant chords layered over top of chugging riffs, there are occasionally depressing, yet soaring melodies that act as climaxes of sorts and are definitely my favorite parts on the album. Of note are the songs “Unholy Mass” (which has some parts that remind me of early Chimaira which is a big plus for me,) “Empyrean Halls,” and the closer “Deliverance.” These songs along with “Orcus Mouth” may be my personal favourites on the album. The descending tremolo riff, in what I assume is the chorus of “Empyrean Halls,” may be my absolute favourite part. Honestly, if there was one section to highlight on this album I would choose this chorus: a groovy, slamming rhythm with a sombre, moody melody.
If there were anything I could say that doesn’t mesh with my personal tastes, I hate to say it but the guitar tone and the overly sludge-style riffs. Don’t get me wrong, I understand what the riffs and rhythms are trying to achieve, I’m just personally not a fan of all chug, all the time. Or at least an overwhelming majority of the time. The guitar tone has an element of this weird, almost “fake” sounding heaviness. I can tell that a particular section is heavy, but it’s almost like a “reflection” of heavy if I can call it that – the tone comes up a little short. The overall production is excellent, however, but given the context of the riffs, the tone doesn’t allow the parts that seem like they’re supposed to smack you in the face to fully do so.
If slower, heavy, slamming riffs with pedaltone-like, drony melodies sound like your thing, then look no further than “Portal Tombs.” Personally, this might scratch an occasional itch but overall isn’t 100% my thing. Seeing this band perform live, though, would definitely be something I would love to make happen.
Release Day: 4 February 2022
Label: Century Media Records