REVIEWED: Mastiff's 'Plague'

February 5, 2019

Big cities can attract musicians from far and wide, but for real misery you need to look outside, to the so-called provincial towns and cities. Hull may have a bad rep (it's actually quite a nice place compared to some boring-as-fuck towns in the Home Counties), but there must be something wrong in the water, since it has produced Mastiff. Summing up the Year of Shit in 2016 with 'Wrank', and then following it up with 'Bork' the next year left many a punter deaf. Now with 'Plague', many a punter feel soon be feeling like death.

 

For a comparison, imagine Eyehategod's blend of sludge and speed turned up to 11, mixed up with black metal's coldness and pure, white knuckle fury. Mastiff aren't even close to EHG; they're so far ahead in brutality that even the most seasoned extreme metal fan will weep tears of blood and joy. Other bands might pay lip service to the ideas of nihilism and misanthropy, but Mastiff are the real fucking deal. From the very first lurching feedback that launches into the D-beat battered opener 'Hellcircle', Mastiff mine emotional depths so deep they're touching the heart of hell itself. Vocalist Jim Hodges sounds like he gargles barbed wire breakfasts before he takes up the mike, and his bandmates are more than up to the task - whatever pace they go, the end result could crack cobblestones. You can throw as much metaphor as you like around, like how 'Vermin' spins to a dense singularity of fear and loathing, or how 'Torture' makes most metal sound like a bunch of postering dickheads or how finale 'Black Death' is a tightly wound apocalypse on disc. But the only way to way to properly explain Mastiff is to repeat this mantra:

 

You might think you're depressed.

You're not.

You might think you're angry.

You're not.

You might think you know you know brutal, visceral music.

You do now.

 

'Plague' is out now on APF Records

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