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Mass Worship Portral Tombs


Album Review: MASS WORSHIP Portal Tombs

7 Reviewer

If there's an award for metal record with the most dissonance, Mass Worship wins it for 2022 so far. Because seriously, this debut record is going to literally shatter your double pane windows given enough volume and then probably shatter the pieces of the shattered glass on the floor.

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Mass Worship is Scandinavia's newest musical export (whose band members hail from Sweden and Denmark) who fearsome foursome delivers a parent-deafening nine track opus about the end of the world. Lyrically, Portal Tombs is about ceasing to exist and the darkness of humanity and all of the destructive systems it has created. As a starter, "Revel in Fear" easily introduces metal fans to the band's dissonant, crushing sound that certainly touches upon a little At The Gates and Napalm Death, as well some rhythmic magic Meshuggah.

Portal Tombs was produced, recorded and mixed by the band's drummer, Fred Forsberg, who said the record is essentially about humanity approaching a place where facts are indiscernible from fiction.

"We as humans are approaching a state where we don't believe in anything," said Forsberg. "Our elected leaders are merely there to sustain a seemingly perpetual status quo, and to grab whatever opportunity they can to shift the public focus. What happens behind the scenes is a slow and steady collapse of our financial, political, ecological, spiritual and cultural world. We can't envision any alternative, it's far too late and far too terrifying to try to stop it, and we all know exactly where it's heading. Portal Tombs symbolizes that Death is the only true way forward. All things must end, and all endings are the beginning of something new."

I really feel Fred's disposition about the world we live in, most notably in the record's closer, the 7-plus minute "Deliverance." It's a slower, brooding dirge that has a strong pulse ,but is also peppered with a hefty dose of lament and despair. Not surprising, since this entire album was recorded at Forsberg's own "Fuck Life" studios, which is the actual name of the studio. I'm wondering if I should add them to my Christmas Card list next year.

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"Orcus Mouth" is the second video released from the record and it sticks to the same formula. There is a bit more integration of genres in this track that also makes the band somewhat difficult to place into a clear silo. But not being in a silo is, perhaps, what this band is going for. They're crafting material that is filled with a paramount level of affect and overflowing emotion. It's as if this record represents a type of primeval scream that signifies the ending of humanity. Messaging and lyrics aside, I absolutely adore the guitar solo in this track. It has such a warm sound and that stands as an interesting contrast to the rest of the song.

Overall, the first single, "Revel in Fear," is the highlight of the record with the more prog-oriented "Dunes of Bone" as my runner-up. The groove in "Empyrean Halls" also really struck me as something I really enjoyed listening to. While there's a lot to like in songs like these, a bit more diversity in terms of the sound and the songwriting would benefit this record. Additionally, given the ferocity of the record, a break from the bone-crushing bass dissonance would be welcome at times. It can get a bit overwhelming to listen to all nine of the songs straight through.

To make the record that much heavier, there are some guests on this record you might be familiar with like guitarist Jonas StÃ¥lhammar of At The Gates, Barney Greenway of Napalm Death, and Jonas Renkse of Katatonia. There's no doubt that Mass Worship have the connections and the talent to put out great heavy music, but I get the sense that more nuance in their songcraft might help elevate them. I hope that this band continues to grow and develop with future releases.

File this one under "uneasy listening."

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