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Mesa – Close Award winner

Mesa
Close
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 25 April 2022, 1:50 AM

Close,” the third full length album by the Italian doom band MESSA, is quite the experience—varied, exciting, heavy, interesting…any number of ways could describe this album, such is the way of the music inside.   This is my first experience of the band—I discovered the album just weeks before receiving the review promo.  MESSA, who formed in 2014, have released such a unique album that even though it is early in the year, I can firmly say I doubt another band will release a doom album this dynamic and encompassing in terms of the varied elements incorporated within. This is a long album—ten tracks that run a few minutes past the one hour mark.  However, it doesn’t feel tiring and not a whole lot of time is wasted, with a couple of exceptions.  “Hollow,” is a fine interlude but I can’t help but feel like it could be more because it seems there is room for expansion of the idea.

The same can be said for “Leffotrak,” a song that may or may not be a joke track.  Regardless of the reasoning for being there, the song is 45 seconds of blackened goodness and definitely needed to be longer.  At the very least, these blackened elements needed more incorporation into the band’s sound.  Perhaps in a future release? These two quibbles aside, the album is master class in how to be expand the sounds of doom metal into other realms in a fresh and exciting manner without forgetting the roots of the genre.  I love that “Close,” is a band effort through and through.  Each of the four members gives a sterling performance yet each firmly fit that performance in the album’s whole.  Sara’s vocals are nearly unbelievable.  Her actorly way with lyrics are instantly catchy and work her smooth yet massive croon expertly.  As far as clean vocalists go, she has to be one of the most emotive in doom metal.  Marco, Alberto, and Rocco are all masters of their craft and weave so many sounds into their tapestry that each song is layered, built from the bottom up to near perfection.  Ambient, blues, post, black metal, and folk are the other styles that they work into the basis of their traditional doom sound.

Suspended” is the album’s first track and it establishes the overall sound and tone of the rest of the album.  Clean notes begin the song as it builds up, the explosion lead by Sara and the electric guitars.  The riffs are heavy, but not overly, and are backed up by the bass which provides a full sound. Around the 2:30 mark, the riffs open up a little and the song picks up speed and continues to gather steam over time.  The rest of the song hits hard in places but in others, such as the solo, the sound becomes unconventional but their songwriting prowess always makes it a worthwhile experience and every part of the song sounds like it is where it should be. “Orphalese,” is a unique song that is light on distortion but still sounds as heavy as the universe, due in no small part to the bass guitar. This particular song is heavy on post and folk elements but they really showcase Sara’s vocals, who plays off the music in just the right way.  I actually get a pretty big IRON MAIDEN vibe with some of the guitar parts, especially around the 2:38 and 6:00 marks.

0=2,” is the album’s longest song and probably what I would call the centerpiece of it all, although it appears late in the track listing.  The first minute or so is ambient, almost spacey, tones that build up to clean guitars and lithe vocals.  It is a long build up but this is doom so that is something I welcome and even enjoy.  Around the 3:40 mark, the vocals come alive as do the drums—at this point, even though the song isn’t really heavy yet by traditional standards, the song is wall of sound that washes over.  At the 4:30, the damn breaks and the doom riffs come out—slow but methodical and purposeful. The final track, “Serving Him,” is one of my favorites on the album and ends it all strongly.  The blues guitar in the beginning sets the mood and the bass lays down a big rhythm.  The band comes together for a doom groove that wouldn’t sound out of the place in the late 60’s/early 70’s.  The song has a psychedelic feel.  The song builds up, picking up layers as it goes along until the end when it becomes a massive maelstrom of enveloping music.

MESSA’sClose,” is a truly stunning album that deserves all the success that it will surely bring the band. It might be a challenging listen for some people due to its unconventional doom sound and length but the rewards that a person will reap from the experience make it a worthy journey to travel upon.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Suspended
2. Dark Horse
3. Orphalese
4. Rubedo
5. Hollow
6. Pilgrim
7. 0=2
8. If You Want Her To Be Taken
9. Leffotrak
10. Serving Him
Lineup:
Rocco – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Alberto – Guitars (lead), Oud, Mandolin, Vocals, Moog bass, Piano, Synths, Percussion
Marco – Bass, Guitars (acoustic), vocals, Synths, Dulcimers
Sara – Vocals (lead), Percussion
Record Label: Svart Records
     


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Edited 04 December 2022
 

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