Thursday, April 14, 2016

Black Mass – Ancient Scriptures

Over the last few years, there have been few thrash metal scenes that can rival the one in Boston. Boasting great names like Lich King and Razormaze, this scene is also home to the fantastic band Black Mass. With some demos and an EP a few years ago, these guys quickly made a name for themselves, but it was not until late in 2015 that they released their first full-length album, entitled “Ancient Scriptures”. Once things get going after the intro track, you’ll immediately notice how bass-heavy the production on this release is. From start to finish, the low-end absolutely dominates the mix here. While not necessarily the production I’d want on every record, it does make for an interesting change from what you’d normally hear on a thrash album, so it is welcomed in this case. Aside from this, there is nothing particularly out of place for a thrash release in terms of sound, as the guitars are crunchy, and the drums sound furious.

Where Black Mass further differentiates themselves is in their songwriting. A lot of the tracks on “Ancient Scriptures” resemble actual songs; that might sound derogatory, but the point is more the fact that Black Mass often makes use of choruses and refrains that are memorable. Too many times extreme metal bands end up writing sounds outside the typical verse/chorus pattern in an effort to fit more riffs into a song, but Black Mass shows that you can pull off both sounds. The result is that even on the first listen you could immediately follow along with these tracks. 

Of particular note is the band’s title track, which features some surprisingly intricate riffing and impressive lead playing. Many of the other highlights are on the second half of the album: “East Coast Thrash” shows the band channeling the spirit of Razor, with some absolutely vicious riffs. “Victims of The Disease” is quite possibly the fastest track on the album (which naturally makes it one of the best), though “Behold The Horror” is another contender for that title as well. “Prepare For War” feels like a charged-up New Wave of British Heavy Metal anthem (particularly because of the rocking riff that kicks in about halfway through the song), while the closing song, “Witch”, injects more melody into the band’s sound with some laid-back moments amongst the chaos that the rest of the album brings.

"Ancient Scriptures" might not be a lot of new elements to the fold in thrash, but it doesn't feel as derivative as many other modern thrash bands do. The quality of the songwriting is a major reason for this; after all, there were legions upon legions of thrash bands from the 1980s that were great because of their songs, not because of their originality. Black Mass is simply a continuation of this movement, and for that reason, this makes "Ancient Scriptures" an essential album to own.

Be sure to check out and like Black Mass on Facebook!

"Black Mass"
"East Coast Thrash"
"Victims of the Disease"

Final Rating
4.5/5 or 90%. 

Written by Scott

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