PICK OF THE WEEK: Molassess shed devil’s blood, blaze rousing new routes on ‘Through the Hollow’

Photo by Ryannevan Dorst

Almost all bands when they start are not carrying with them a legacy that went beyond music and had its claws firmly steeped in spiritual and philosophical terrain that was larger than any of the members themselves. The Devil’s Blood may have a relatively small body of work and history, but their pull went beyond all of that, influencing and moving people after they passed.

That end came when leader Selim Lemouchi passed from this earthly terrain in 2014, and the band’s run halted abruptly. But a few years ago, things started to bubble, and its members were asked to perform at 2019’s Roadburn, planting the seeds for Molassess, the second phase of the work started by the Devil’s Blood. Here, the band has arrived with their debut album “Through the Hollow,” a nine-track, 65-minute opus that not only lives up to their original formation’s work but also pushes beyond that into something even more immersive and imaginative. Molassess brings former the Devil’s Blood members entrancing vocalist Farida Lemouchi (she was known as the Mouth of Satan), as well as guitarists Oeds Beydals and Ron van Herpen, and bassist Job van de Zande, and they’re joined by drummer Bob Hogenelst and keyboard player Matthijs Stronks on this new project that continues to carry the spiritual mission started by Selim into whatever chaotic future is ahead of us all.   

The title track starts with strange noises floating in before guitars spiral, and a trippy feel is achieved quickly. Lemouchi’s unmistakable singing unfurls as a sprawling journey spreads out and carries the bulk of this 11:06-long track. Keys haunt as wordless calls soothe, and the music keeps tunneling as Lemouchi calls, “No more bridges left to burn,” amid a psyche haze that fully intoxicates. “Get Out From Under” has guitars trickling and more exceptional singing straight from Lemouchi’s guts. The chorus is tremendous while the vibe is mesmerizing and driving. The stirring playing continues as warm guitars heat up and bring a deep, golden ’70s vibe as prog-fueled playing takes the song to its end. “Formless Hands” runs a healthy 10:54 and blasts alive with keys jolting and a great, lively feel taking over your chest cavity. Leads buzz as the band’s fluid playing reminds of a heavier early era Chicago or Yes, as Lemouchi wonders, “Are you along for the ride?” Synth spits hypnotic patterns as the playing trudges into druggy weirdness, and a long, mind-altering instrumental section rounds back as Lemouchi’s singing returns bellowing, and the track keeps warping your mind even as it bows out. “Corpse of Mind” flows in mystically as melodies spread and the vocals float, with Lemouchi commanding, “Break through the eyes of time.” The singing feels otherworldly while the end of the track disappears into a void.

“The Maze of Stagnant Time” leads in with guitars firing and a burst of emotion as the singing pushes the boundaries. Wordless calls cause the fervor to rise while the riffs get agitated, and cool keys and jazzy guitars bring cold rains to soak the ground. “I Am No Longer” melts in with guitars liquifying and dreamy slowness dictating the pace at first. Drums bustle, joined by keys perfect for nighttime as Lemouchi declares, “I am forever haunting.” The music segues into elegance and seasonal coolness while brains bubble from skulls, slide guitars bring unexpected heat, and the track blisters out. “Death Is” is a great goddamn track, a revelation in a record full of body-tingling stuff, this one acting playful from the start with guitars couch-locking you. There’s such a strange vibe as vintage guitars zap through what feels like a tasty, deadly selection from a nightclub dedicated to total darkness, leaving you lying, gasping in your own juices. Such a good song. “Tunnel” cuts through as sounds rattle and a strange vibe sets up shop. Bass pumps while the drums snap with life, as echoing, nightmarish strangeness attaches onto this instrumental and brings it to chiming end. “The Devil Lives” is the perfect final cut, a 10:33-long anthem that feels like it stitches its path from the last band to this one. “Something’s amiss, and you KNOW it,” Lemouchi stabs with a line that’ll chill your bones while the guitars intoxicate with a mix of blues and psychedelia. The playing feels like it travels across a sea before it rises up again and Lemouchi delivers the most jarring line of the record with, “The devil’s blood is within me,” which should electrify you as guitars echo and moan, soling later brings metallic sparks, and everything ends in a tornadic abyss.

Following up the sound and legacy of the Devil’s Blood had to be a harrowing task, but what Molassess accomplish here keeps intact the veins the original band grew into the earth while branching off to other areas not yet explored. I had been heavily anticipating “Through the Hollow” all year long, to the point of where I feared my expectations were too high, but this band absolutely decimated those. This is one of the most magickal, emotionally moving records of the year, and it’s a fresh beginning for a band whose mission was nowhere near over.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Molassessofficial

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/band/molassess/

Or here (International): https://shop.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.season-of-mist.com/

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