It’s not often these days that a band comes out of nowhere and really surprises me. I’m not trying to say I’m super smart or anything because, if you’ve ever read this site, you know that I’m not. Instead that surprise comes from being a writer who is inundated with music and bands on a daily basis that when one really sneaks up on you, it can knock you for a loop.
I had that with Italian doom band Messa and their debut album “Belfry.” This 10-track offering has so much going for it, from smoking drone, to trudging stoner vibes, to pure doom stomping that every track along the way provides a nice new surprise. I’m kind of shocked that Messa’s name never came up before in my daily travels, but it’s nice to be surprised now and again. I definitely was with this record. Just from my own personal music tastes, especially when it comes to heaviness, there’s so much in which to indulge on “Belfry.” If you’re down with bands including Christian Mistress, Windhand, High on Fire, and groups of that nature, chances are Messa are going to wake you up from your stupor.
Messa have been doing their thing for the past two years now, emerging at the dawning of 2014 with guitarist/bassist Mark Sade (Sultan Bathery, the Sade) joining forces with vocalist Sara (who plays bass in decidedly deathier Restos Humanos) and putting their dark minds together to dream up a new path through doom (they call is “scarlet doom”). They later were joined by lead guitarist Alberto (Incolti, Douge) and drummer Mistyr (Nox Interitus) to round up the lineup and start driving toward what would be this great debut record “Belfry.” It’s not necessarily that Messa are going to revolutionize doom, as that’s nearly impossible at this state. But they’re a damn strong entry to the mix and provide some spark and strength to the style, and that certainly is much needed.
The record starts with instrumental “Alba,” a quick burst of drone almost as if it emanated from Sunn 0)))’s exhaust pipes, and that lurches its way toward “Babalon” and its doomy swagger that meets you at the front gates. Psychedelic winds begin to waft, with the pace punishing and Sara’s vocals sweltering with life as she wails, “Oh Lord, it’s a new dawn rising,” almost as if she’s referring to the magic they’re creating. The soloing catches fire and causes blinding flashes, while the tempo sizzles, switches suddenly, and then bleeds away. “Fara” is another quick instrumental, built with quiet guitars, subtle fuzz, and melody that later trickles in and heads into “Hour of the Wolf.” There, the guitars tremble, with bluesy guitar licks, and Sara warning, “I believe them to be demons, they engulf my soul.” The track then hits another gear, as the playing trudges, Sara’s raspy singing sounds a bit like Fiona Apple, and the cut comes to a furious end. “Blood” spreads over 10:25, opening with guitars jangling, and the band slipping into a sludgy groove. The pace simmers dangerously, with the guitars threatening before things calm, and clarinets and sax infuse added soul. There is a long psychedelic sweat section that stretches out, before the song gets burly again and the final moments get in some final bruising.
“Tomba” is another quick instrumental to bring the mood back down, with quiet ticking, noise hovering, and a siren-like effect that tears toward “New Horns” that gets off to a stampeding start. Sara’s vocals are powerful as hell here, with the song punching hard and a strong force establishing its presence along with the sinewy guitars. Sara begins to speak as the guitars churn, and of out of that comes a noise glaze that spreads over everything before the pace kicks up again and blasts to a close. “Bell Tower” is the final instrumental interlude, with weird sounds and eerie fluttering ruptured by the strange bells chiming in the distance. “Outermost” then comes in and ruptures the uneasy serenity, with volume piercing and the doom hammers unloaded. The vocals have a humid, sultry feel, while the rest of the song is meaty and thick. “You are the temple that’s falling down,” Sara insists, as the guitars erupt, the band goes down a bluesy, psychedelic path, and the rest of the song melts into the ground. Closer “Confess” likely would make Windhand and Dorthia Cottrell smile, as it’s a dark, acoustic-led track where Sara’s vocals are the primary tool, but the evil blues, haunting and dusty ambiance, and stripped-back emotion drive this home like a stake to the chest.
With “Belfry” being Messa’s first entry into the world, it’s pretty safe to stay they’ve gotten off to a strong start and should open eyes and ears with this great record. They have the intensity and creativity that should carry them a long way, and once more people catch onto this record, they should have no problem building a following. It’s nice to have new doom band emerging that can get the juices flowing, as “Belfry” is a beast flying way under the radar that could strike at any time.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/MESSAproject/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.auralwebstore.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.auralmusic.com/