Four years ago a trio in Rotterdam formed a heavy sludge rock band. This band Massa recognises influences in the likes of the Melvins, Yob, Mogwai and Godspeed. The word “cinematic” is affixed to their work. The scene is set.
The opener “Shiva” is like a waiting game. A decidedly post metal ring forms the backdrop to spoken words. A fuzzy doom-like tone takes it forward. I was expecting something more powerful but it would seem that “Shiva” was basically a 4 minute intro. The following track “8” is shadowy, depending on delicate touches rather than raw power. The instrumentalists do have a right go about four and a half minutes in, but this isn’t strong. The vocalist sounds strangely distant and echoey at the same time. I didn’t have any image in my head. I found this mixed up. Massa like their obscuring sound effects and produce them again in the shady opening to “Expedition”. Post rock progression follows. There is a sense of creeping forward. The pattern is interesting. The style is that of classic rock with progressive and post metal elements. But interesting as the pattern may be, no picture of anything was coming into my head. I found the same with “Federal”, which has a progression and is indeed retro progressive with its organ and spaced out vibe. Its expansion is dynamic. ”Federal” was for me the most impressive and charismatic piece on this 26 minute album. All that is left is a doomy, psychedelic, spaced out piece called “Intermassa”.
This album was neither one thing nor the other. Massa clearly have a vision for their music. The output is many things ranging from 70s style psychedelic rock to a more modern post rock style. This doesn’t work for me. The confusion detracts from any strengths the album has, and from the listening experience as a whole. “Walls” as any music should be about breaking them down, not putting up barriers. That’s what I felt this did.
(5.5/10 Andrew Doherty)