Floating off into strange dreams where you surrender your body and simply let music enter your bloodstream doesn’t sound like your typical adventure in metal and heavy music in general. For the most part that’s the case, but there definitely are those bands around that can act as an escape, where you can stretch your mind instead of merely get brutalized.
California-based sludge/doom (and that’s a loose description) band Mesa are one of those that have aims other than just leaving welts on your body. Their MIDI-obsessed crunch can be a big serotonin boost if this style of music works for you, and if your tastes are diverse, definitely give their debut full-length record “Collapse” a serious chance. Formed by Marie McAuliffe (also of Putrescine, who handles guitar, bass, vocals, MIDI) and Adam Heller (formerly of Megalodon, who takes on guitar, synths, MIDI, piano), they create a world on these six tracks that can be earthquaking but also dissolve into passages that feel like they’ve taken you into a fantasy world that wraps its tendrils around you and pulls you under for an experience you won’t soon forget.
“The Portent of Throne” slowly works its way into full form as McAuliffe’s shrieks rip into muscle, making your blood pressure rise before we’re into a dreamy haze. The vocals switch to a higher register clean singing for a stretch, and then it’s back to the thorns as the band pounds into fertile emotional ground, slipping out into the atmosphere. “A Stone Bridge of Folly” feels like it floats in the air before the savagery arrives, the vocals crush teeth, and the sense of adventure is off the charts. Guitars soar as oxygen fills the room and your lungs, sludgy blows are landed, and the guitars soar and soothe, thrusting out into the night. “Where the Mountains Join the Clouds” lets the keys establish a tone before the sound begins to expand and the emotions light up. Wild howls agitate muscles as the music swims, vicious shrieks lay waste, and the hypnotic playing melts your tension, leaving in a trancey fog.
“A Final Snowfall as the Dawn of Man Flickers” is an interesting, woodsy instrumental cut that starts in acoustics and puffy musical clouds, almost immediately bringing down your anxiety. Cool waters rush as the keys enhance the mood, the acoustics cool the flesh, and the final moments buzz in the back of your head. “Motif 8 (The Dirge)” continues that serenity as it feels like you’re slowly moving through the cosmos, letting breezes work through your hair. Punches are thrown musically as the vocals call out, the midsection is ripped open, and a dreamy prog jolt makes your hairs stand on your arms, ending on a high note as McAuliffe calls, “Her Body alight, soaked by oil, She lied down in consuming fire.” “With Light Comes Redemption” ends the album by getting off to a fast start with the pace punching up and the music whirling into the air. The drumming picks up the intensity as a melodic fury strikes, the keys flutter, and the track is swept off into a strange new plane of existence.
There is no way to properly sum up Mesa’s sound or to give a quick explanation as to what awaits listeners on “Collapse,” easily one of the most interesting, thought-provoking records I’ve heard all year. Heavy enough to live in metallic terrain but strange enough to leave unambitious listeners at arm’s length, this album feels and sounds different with each journey through these six tracks. There’s nothing quite like Mesa and the strange art they make, and I can’t even begin to think of anything with which to compare this magnificent strangeness.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/MESAmusic/
To buy the album, go here: https://mesadoom.bandcamp.com/album/collapse
Or here (cassette): https://realmandritual.bandcamp.com/album/collapse
For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/realmandritual/