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Mastiff - Plague Award winner

by Katharine Hassett at 12 January 2019, 6:43 PM

Straight out of Kingston upon Hull, England, Mastiff is a “miserable band from a miserable town,” slinging some of the grimiest sludge out there, with a violent dose of grindcore. “Born of their disgust at humanity’s false nature, and the way in which our deceit and lies spread through social media, ‘Plague’ is the culmination of a lifetime of frustration, hatred and sorrow, filtered through the most brutal and pummelling material Mastiff have ever concocted.”

Since their initial 2006 release “Wrank,” Mastiff has played with legends such as Agnostic Front, Crowbar, Conan, and Biohazard, as well as appearing at popular festivals such as Bloodstock, Deserfest London, Riff-Fest and Dreadfest. Following their debut self-release, Mastiff teamed up with APF Records and recorded a 6 track EP, an album the band joked about using “volume over talent,” which is far from the truth – this band is a constant beatdown to any listener, with plenty of diversity to keep folks who are generally turned off by sludge occupied. “Plague” is their most foreboding and innovative work to date, recorded in the summer of 2018 at Studio 94, entirely live with no tracking whatsoever, with “Black Death” being recorded in one take. The record was recorded, mixed and mastered by Mikey Scott, scheduled for release on February 1st and is filled with the quintets most raw and aggressive material.

The 33 minute theater of destruction opens with an ominous ambiance that seems forged out of the pits of hell itself, soon introducing guitar feedback and plowing straight into the pummeling that is “Hell Circle.” A track filled with plenty of variety to set the stage of the chaos to come - hardcore riffage, blastbeats, skankbeats, sludgey breakdowns and raspy mid to low range screams. The opener digs deep into the sewers of sludge, slowing down entirely for the last minute, closing with feedback that leads into “Bubonic” – another filthy track that explores varying tempos and continues the dissonant, dark riffage that creates an overall evil atmosphere. “Quarantine” opens with what sounds like a man being tortured, and slowly builds with Michael Shepard beating on his toms like war drums. This downright dirty, downtempo track chews the listener up and spits them out with a raw energy that is purely headbangable. “Torture” wastes no time to get straight to the violence, with a blastbeat over a heavily distorted, simplistic chord progression that is put through a meat grinder of time changes, giving of a vibe of pure, unadulterated anguish. The grindcore influence is exemplified in this five minute banger of a track.

The five-piece that has already outdone themselves in many ways closes the album with a nine-minute hate-filled monument that evolves out of a disgustingly brutal sludge riff that abuses the listeners ears just as long as it needs to, soon layering on the wretchedly aggrieved low growls of Jim Hodge. With healthy doses of guitar feedback and slowing time changes, “Black Death” completes the album in the most tormenting form. In the often over-saturated and monotonous genre of sludge, “Plague” is a satisfyingly diverse album that will catch any unsuspecting listener off guard with torturous riffage and harrowing beatdowns. It may be too early to say, but for this writer, “Plague” may very well be a contender for a list of top albums of the year – it is a deeply pissed off album that will speak to the core of frustrated souls.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Hellcircle
2. Bubonic
3. Brainbleed
4. Quarantine
5. Vermin
6. Torture
7. Weep
8. Black Death
Daniel Dolby - Bass
Michael Sheperd - Drums
Phil Johnson - Guitars
James Andrew Lee - Guitars
Jim Hodge - Vocals
Record Label: APF Records


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Edited 03 February 2023

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