Friday, March 22, 2013

Black Mask - Black Mask (2012)

Demo, Very Tight Recordings / Get This Right Records
June 1st, 2012

Genre: Hardcore
Region: USA

Just another record request that got buried and I unfortunately just never got to it. It's stupid because a few months back I came across them on bandcamp journey and that's when I caught Black Mask's demo. Then I checked my inbox on a hunch and bam — my inattentiveness laid bare. Anyway I've been spinning it pretty regularly since then. Black Mask are a four piece hardcore unit from Pennsylvania with just this six song demo to their name, but I suspect that they'll be pretty busy in the next little while if their sound here is any indicator.

First thing that has to be said is that I am under no illusions about Black Mask's sound, they're not exactly breaking convention or pushing the innovation envelope. It's very feedbacky Entombed/Converge/Catheter influenced crusty-thrashy-core much like a lot of the recent Southern Lord catalog so if you're tired of that you're probably considering a pass on this one. I suggest you give this a shot despite your warranted cynicism. For me all that doesn't kill something as long as the material does what it should do and these guys can manifest some vicious hardcore that resides a bit on the dark and crusty side. I keep coming back to it.

The guitar tone is that thick chainsaw growl that Vorum, Magrudergrind, Black Breath, and early New Lows have adopted and it definitely amps up the simple break downs and hardcore rhythms to have greater impact. All of them strike with a lot of force. Lots of sharp feedback between songs and in fills and the vocals are what you might expect: pissed, rasped, and loud. Very much like YAITW which is hard not to love. Drums feel a little weak in the mix at times with all the noise (not the performance), while the bass is clear but not as chunky/weighty as say on a Protestant or Converge record; some minor shit that doesn't lessen my enjoyment overall.

Stand out tracks? Honestly they're all really good. "Bottom Feeder" and "Serpent" probably if I had to say followed by "Agony". The first one there is hugely memorable and catchy (like something ACxDC or Osk would do but a notch or two slower) with a giant final riff, the whole this is very tight and should be played loud. The opener "Serpent" has a similar finale that just cracks concrete, leading into "The Greys" which is fast and gnarled.

We get a slight change of pace in two songs: the closer "Loner" which is shaped slightly different then the rest of the tracks, littered with bends and a thick oldschool groove. And then the only break in the hardcore gallop in the form of  "Death Unfolds", a static and feedback-laden semi-doomy instrumental flowing through a lone, crawling bass line for the first minute only to evolve into a nice slow buzzing procession.

This is one of those records that is just simply enjoyable, something that if you cranked your tubes and started jamming to you would get a great deal of enjoyment out of; I've done that few times. No real weak spots as the focus is clearly on aggressive, short, noisy, and catchy blasts and while it's hard to fuck that up it's also hard to make it interesting anymore. Black Mask do it for me an laugh in the face of a saturated scene.

Brutal, loud, jagged hardcore that I slept on. Recommended to those of you who like Converge, All Pigs Must Die, Young And In The Way, Baptists, Magrudergrind, Black Breath, etc. you'll appreciate this. I guess if you are the cynical type you can at least rest easy knowing black metal is left out of the mix. Plus it's less than 10 minutes long so they won't wast much of your time.

If you want it you can grab it for $3 on bandcamp or for a physical copy check out Get This Right Records for the 7" version. Follow them on facebook for more info on tours and upcoming material.

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