Mass Punishment – Proving Ground, Vol. 1 (Review)

Mass PunishmentMass Punishment are from the US and play Thrash/Groove Metal. This is their début album.

Mass Punishment play their Metal with an overdose of muscle and with reference to the big hitters of the scene – Pantera, Machine Head, Sepultura, Hatebreed, etc.

This is Metal that takes no prisoners as it relentlessly stalks the battlefield for targets. On the surface of things it seems that a band like this might not have much to offer other the listener than some brawny riffs and angry anthems, but on closer inspection Mass Punishment surprise by having a lot more to them than just the basics.

For a start, the song lengths are longer than the norm for this type of music, with the average track spanning the 5-7 minute marks. This means that the band never rush themselves and give themselves the space to demonstrate what they can do.

So, amongst the brutality and heavy riffs, spread out across these song lengths, what makes Mass Punishment better than mere Pantera rip-offs?

A few things, actually. Let’s have a look –

  1. Passion and integrity. They may be inspired by some of the masters but they are definitely doing their own thing.
  2. Songwriting skills. The guys know how to write an enjoyable song. Lots of them.
  3. Metal. Their songs also incorporate elements of a cleaner Metal style that’s not quite Power Metal but certainly isn’t pure brawn and muscle. Think Old-School Anthrax with soaring vocals meets a bit of a more Euro-Metal style. There’s no Melodic Death Metal, Gothenburg-style or anything like that; this is more melodic Thrash I suppose, but one from the finest pedigree and history.
  4. Modernity. The band know how to incorporate some of the heavier and more extreme advances in Metal that have occurred since the mid/late-90s, which I think is Mass Punishment’s spiritual home. Influences from the best that Slipknot and Metalcore have to offer are incorporated where necessary. But only the good stuff.
  5. Diversity. This is no one-trick pony. For every face-shredding part there’s the also nuance and subtlety; they have struck a good ratio between the two. They know how to rage and destroy but they also know how to inject melody and light into their attack. Just listen to The Desert Rogue.

All accounted for, Mass Punishment successfully take the Metal template that was established over 15/20 years ago and completely own it as their birthright.

I need to mention the singer as well. A band like this needs a charismatic, personable vocalist who is diverse and intense enough to match the power of the music. Thank fuck they have this, otherwise Mass Punishment would be an exercise in wasted potential. Phew.

This is a very holistic, complete album. Each song has its own identity, purpose and place on the album. It’s a great thing to hear.

Well, I’ve been hugely impressed with this. Considering the height of the bar in this style I haven’t heard Groove Metal done so damn well in ages. I really hope that this band can get some much needed exposure to the wider Metal scene as Proving Ground, Vol. 1 has a lot to offer any Metal fan.

Had they been born decades earlier when this style was at its height they would no doubt be huge. Having said that; Mass Punishment, and the music they represent, are still very relevant and more people would do well to listen to them.

Top work.

One thought on “Mass Punishment – Proving Ground, Vol. 1 (Review)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.