Fiercely intense guitars and distortion rain down amidst the doubled-vocal weight of descending grunge melodies, as Samuel Mason kicks off an anthemic and dark new project Black Masses.
Hell Is Knocking starts things up – a heavy rock tune with a falling melody that paves the way in a listing format towards the passionate, wave-like rise and fall of the hook. Weave in a simple, catchy guitar riff for further recognisability, and the song introduces things on a high.
Featuring reflective, poetic and often unsettling lyrical observations, Black Masses continues to explore its own creative realm and the contemplative writing style of Mason as this EP goes on.
The style is admittedly versatile, the immediate switch in pace for a cinematic Creepin’ drawing focus to a cleanly-mixed voice and a more personal sense of storytelling as we approach the revealing peak that is another anthemic hook. Here we get a touch of indie-rock influence, from the initial Queens Of The Stone Age approach to the now Stone Roses or Oasis edge of accessible, indie-esque presence. The voice has identity regardless, and this proves true throughout the project.
Consider the relentless rhythm and conceptual weight of On The Come Up -cascading guitars and drums that beg for you to witness them in a live setting, then a drawn out doubled vocal harmony for that haunting Mason sound.
Many a soundbite introduces these songs, prompting the mind to wander accordingly as the music kicks in. Nowhere is this more effective than on What Did I Do? Another indie meets Britpop crossover track, one that naturally offers a powerful and memorable hook section, which resolves brilliantly whilst also leaving a lingering sense of juxtaposed uncertainty or unfinished business.
With Perfect, a hint of pop-punk vocal play meets with the simple freestyle work of a guitar line as it paves the way towards absolute chaos and punk rock poetic intensity. The EP’s eclectic core really elevates itself here. Then we get the well-placed ethereal shoegaze tones of Deep Sea Crash Dream to soften the mood and reflect again, with a thoughtful melody and a series of personal observations.
Finishing up the collection is the soaring distortion and live-rock presence of the title-track, a gritty and full sounding anthem that utilises contrast well between sections, and ultimately gifts us perhaps the most engaging and infectious song on the project. The stop and start of intensity and the vocal smoothness work really well amidst the marching power of the guitar, bass and drums arrangement.
A great way to go out, an easy highlight, and a project which, in hindsight, gets better and better as it moves along.