Mass Worship – Portal Tombs (Review)

Mass Worship - Portal TombsThis is the second album from Mass Worship, an extreme metal band from Sweden.

The Mass Worship formula for delivering a crushing metal album is one of finding the best ratio of metal, death metal and hardcore. At the Gates, Meshuggah, and Mastodon are all mentioned as influences, and these help appreciate where Mass Worship are coming from.

The music is oppressively heavy – you’ll be seeing this latter word a lot. The band mix the steamroller groove of Swedish death metal with the inhuman riffs of Meshuggah, ending up with something that’s curiously reminiscent of both, but doesn’t actually sound too much specifically like either. A death metal version of Meshuggah I suppose is the obvious description, although there’s enough of a hardcore influence to prevent the band from fully falling into the death metal category. I generally don’t care for bands that sound in any way like Meshuggah unless it’s Meshuggah themselves, so it’s testament to Mass Worship’s capabilities that they have managed to be inspired by such a distinctive band without losing their own identity. Very, very few bands have accomplished this, some of which I’ll mention later on below.

It’s not all Meshuggah-heaviness though. Twisted melody and grim macabre atmosphere are occasionally deployed, adding some texture to the band’s otherwise relentless assault. The singer has a harsh barked roar that is as monstrous as the music. Members of At the Gates, Napalm Death, and Katatonia guest on the album too, all adding a bit of extra flavour to proceedings.

The songs are well-written and surprisingly memorable and catchy. The band’s absolute heaviness is augmented by a variety of different ideas, creative flourishes, and mood-driven textures. These allow the band to avoid falling into the trap of becoming one-dimensional, which they probably would have without these aspects in their music. Thankfully Mass Worship seem to know that you need more than just crushing heaviness to make a good record, and have planned accordingly.

That’s not too say that Portal Tombs isn’t ridiculously heavy though, because it is. Have you picked up on this yet? That this is heavy? The recording fully captures the band’s wall of sound with utterly flattening results. Have I mentioned how heavy Mass Worship are? The bass alone is heavy enough to snap buildings in two. Heavy heavy heavy.

Heavy.

Okay, to sum up, if you’re a fan of bands such as Meshuggah, Humanity’s Last Breath, Gojira, and Vildhjarta, but are looking for something along these lines injected with a dose of ferocious old-school Swedish metal, then look no further than Portal Tombs. Mass Worship have created an album that may be crushingly heavy, (there’s that word again), but that manages to subtly grow on you over time with its creative nuances and well-crafted songwriting.

Highly recommended.

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