ALBUM REVIEW: MASSIS by MASSIS
Among the Belgian new releases so far, here’s the self-titled album from MASSIS. Produced by MASSIS and Patrick Delabie and recorded, mixed and mastered at Studio 195 Wernhout in Holland, the record is an impressive debut with 8 tracks that moisturize and nurture the passion for instrumental noise rock.
Experienced musicians, skilled over the years through many different styles, from hard rock and hardcore to post-punk and noise rock, MASSIS’s members have already an impressive previous activity in bands like Heibel, Triptych, Cabrón, Hangmen, Balderdash, as well as many years of stage experience. No wonder that the album is astonishing for a debut work.
Nothing gives more charm to a record than a good album opener. While on stage they can grab your attention in five seconds, the opening track leaves you with no other chance than instantly submerge into their exquisite post-rock sound. ‘N˚3’ is an excellent choice in this respect, with a sudden tone-beginning, aggressive and alluring at the same time. Moreover, that wall of guitar sound comes only from two guitars, mastered by Andy Heurckmans and Bernard Van Hecke. It’s a great introduction to the album, offering many themes as preview to the other songs.
‘Powerplant’ however builds up gradually, starting also with a fast guitar riff on which multiple layers are gradually added. While the guitars are the backbone, the bass (Erwin Reynders) and the drumming (Jo Reynders) are the driving force. A song with a complex composition, where all the elements are brought together for the song to reach high emotional levels and end in an explosion of sound.
‘Mondésir’ is the longest track and the only one with vocals. One more powerful song. The rhythm section does an admirable job, keeping up the tempo while the music is moving forward at high speed pace. Over this, they have admirable inserted some Creole lullaby (Esther Mondésir Heurckmans and Vévé ‘Shake’ Mazimpaka), which emphasis the dramatic effect of a rather more darkish sound.
‘Joan’ may start a bit brighter but it changes quickly, before you even realize it. It has a very technical component, playing with rhythmic dissonance, jazzy sounds and rich bass layers. It becomes almost experimental with one acerbic noise assault after another, slowing down into an anarchic ending.
‘Push’ sounds a lot like a variation of ‘N˚3’ a bit less aggressive in guitar sound but more aggressive in sound level, as the drumming precision and force become more intense. It’s a song that builds up expectation, making you want even more of that boost. Which you get later on with ‘Purty Mouth Boy’.
‘Thee Hangmen’ is a little different, still explosive but more subtle. Enveloped in progressive textures, it takes a break from playing at extremely fast tempos just to make enough space for merging in voice recordings over hidden guitar solos and alternating aggressive passages.
‘Snakes’ makes a perfect closing track, a conclusion to everything that came before it. Shredding guitar riffs and voice samples which work together well with catchy drum beats and a steady bass. It perfectly showcases the band’s overall playing and finished the album in style.
MASSIS is an impressive release that won’t leave you indifferent. A product of talent amplified by music experience. It’s really impossible not to like it.
The album can be found both on CD and vinyl record. Their BANDCAMP page includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
- Andy Heurckmans // Guitar
- Jo Reynders // Drums
- Erwin Reynders // Bass
- Bernard Van Hecke // Guitar
- Steven Janssens (Mark Lanegan Band, Mauro & The Grooms…) has replaced Bernard on guitars – January 2015
- Esther Mondésir Heurckmans & Vévé ‘Shake’ Mazimpaka appear also on MASSIS with vocals (Creole lullaby) on ‘Mondésir’
- N°3 03:06
- Powerplant 04:56
- Mondésir 06:01
- Joan 03:50
- Push 04:07
- Thee Hangmen 04:21
- Purty Mouth Boy 03:25
- Snakes 05:46
MASSIS is a 4-piece instrumental band, driven by guitars and a well-oiled rhythm section which prefers to travel off the beaten track.
The 4 members love the raw style of the eighties, where music could still breathe passion instead of being a safe and cosy blanket of comfort. Guitars could sound like guitars.
The 8 songs linger, pierce and/or hypnotise, depending on the distance travelled.
OTHER NOTABLE CONTRIBUTIONS
Libelia De Splenter (‘Pressure gauge’-photo) http://www.libelia.eu
Gert-Jan De Baets Live-photo (http://www.genthology.be/)
Editorial help and layout
Sam Vanhove & ‘Saar’