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Molasses Barge – A Grayer Dawn

Molasses Barge
A Grayer Dawn
by Gary Hernandez at 01 May 2020, 11:18 AM

MOLASSES BARGE formed in 2008 in the former Iron City (Pittsburg, PA, USA). As their name would suggest, they deliver slow tempo, down-tuned metal . . . which is pretty much the definition of Doom Metal, so, yeah, they’re a Doom Metal band. I guess the name also implies they’re sweet and hard to turn around, but anyway on April 10, 2020 they released their second full-length album (or third depending on if you count their first as a double or separate albums), “A Grayer Dawn.”

The album focuses on journeys of the more sobering kind — sometimes at the outset; sometimes at the end (and we all know the end is always just the beginning), but always involving change. Brian "Butch" Balich vocals are gritty but clean and have a bluesy swagger. The guitar work of Justin Gizzi and Barry Mull are consistent and well-coordinated, though I wouldn’t say either is off the charts inventive. As a Doom/Sludge band, Amy Bianco’s bass performance carries a disproportionate amount of weight, and thankfully she’s quite good at her trade. Coupled with Wayne Massey’s work on the kit, the two carry a solid rhythm section.

My pick of standouts includes the title track, “A Grayer Dawn.” The lead guitar is flat out nasty, and the track takes on a Stoner-fused tempo. Balich puts his vocal range to the test, positively belting through the last few minutes. I also enjoyed “Holding Pattern” with its jazz-like breaks and meandering solos. “Black Wings Unfurl” is by far my favorite track and will appeal to darker Doom fans with its bleak Biblical references and evocation of Abaddon.

MOLASSES BARGE isn’t the sludgiest or the doomiest band on the circuit, nor do they try to be. They do, however, deliver consistently strong material and “A Grayer Dawn” is proof in point. The only downside to the album is its brevity, especially considering we got an hour plus of material from them in 2017, albeit half were covers. Altogether MOLASSES BARGE has cranked out an excellent sophomore album, setting them on a firm forward trajectory . . . and we all know once a barge gets moving, it just doesn’t stop.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. The Snake
2. Desert Discord
3. Control Letting Go
4. Holding Patterns
5. Black Wings Unfurl
6. Distant
7. A Grayer Dawn
8. Reprise
Amy Bianco - Bass
Wayne Massey - Drums
Justin Gizzi - Guitars
Brian "Butch" Balich - Vocals
Barry Mull - Guitars
Record Label: Argonauta Records


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Edited 07 February 2023

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