Moss – Tomb Of The Blind Drugged (Rise Above Records) Keith Boyd
Mention heavy metal to most people and it will probably conjure up images of long hair, leather, and head banging. While there is plenty of that to go around, when you really take a look at metal you begin to see how complex it is. First and foremost, metal is a genre of genres. Starting in roughly the late 60’s and early 70’s, it soon splintered into a number of sub-genres, each with their own attributes, lyrical themes, and audience. One of the more rarified of these genres is Doom Metal. Doom’s roots go back to the dawn of metal with acts such as Black Sabbath, Candlemass and Pentagram. Musically speaking, Doom is typified by extremely slow tempos, mountain-sized guitar riffs, intensely arranged vocals, and the use of non-traditional instruments such as organs. While acts such as Saint Vitus kept the Doom rumbling through the 80’s, the music largely fell out of favor to be replaced by the likes of Thrash, Speed, and Death Metal. But just as all things come in cycles and everything old is new again, Doom came crawling out of the crypt in the 90’s with bands such as Cathedral, Electric Wizard, and Witchfinder General. This resurgence continues today and has spawned a number of bands, both upholding traditions, while exploring the boundaries of Doom Metal.
Hailing from the UK and bringing their own H.P. Lovecraft/occult infused dirge is Moss. While their new disc, “Tomb of the Blind Drugged” doesn’t quite touch the heights (depths?) of either of their previous releases (Cthonic Rites and Sub Templum) it is still a bracing trip to the darkside. The sonic onslaught commences immediately with Skeletal Keys. Mind crushingly slow riffs collide with tectonic intensity while singer Olly Pearson’s tormented shrieks rip through the mix like an escapee from Bedlam. The overall heightened vocal presence and the powerful use of organ are perhaps the most significant changes in Moss’s sound. Most the EP offers up heaving doses of Doom-laden sludge. That sludge has been refined to a caustic goo that really hits the mark and will leave listeners dazed and happy. An interesting and welcome twist comes in the form of a cover of Hardcore Punk band Discharge’s song “Maimed and Slaughtered”. This damaged and smeared version of the song serves to highlight the connection that extreme Punk and Metal have always shared.
Tomb of the Blind Drugged is not a ride for everyone. It’s a thorny and difficult blast that is relentless in its molten attack. Moss has taken an interesting detour here. While maintaining the bulk of their frenzied signature they have added a few elements worthy of exploration. The slight trade off of intensity in the name of a hint of melody is a natural development. The music is played with an intensity and dedication that is engaging and hypnotic. Moss has found a path through their darkness that arrives at a compelling place of grotesque beauty.