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Messa – ‘Close’

Svart Records
Dead Can Dance, Swans, Om, Black Sabbath, Jefferson Airplane
Release Date
Svart Records
Doom Metal

When the “FFO” spans five decades and four unique genres, you know the band in question aren’t going to be likely pinned down very easily. Italy’s Messa bring us the third full length studio album in their instantly identifiable way. Blessed with one of modern Rock’s greatest and most distinctive voices with lead singer Sara, this is one of those bands you really need on your “must listen” list.

Formed as recently as 2014, the band use elements of Black Metal, Jazz, Afro Beats, Progressive Metal, and hypnotic Psychedelia they’ve been influenced by throughout their youth in Northeast Italy. The way they mix those influences with such distinctive writing and performing is nothing far short of magical.

The earlier albums, 2016’s “Belfry”, and 2018’s “Feast for Water” foreshadow how the band sound today with “Close”; each album in the sequence using colossal dynamic shifts from near silence to shatteringly brutal, rhythms and tempi from the slowest funereal sludge to frenetic double-kick and blast-beats, and everywhere in between. On “Close” these happen repeatedly (and seamlessly) in individual songs; Free-Jazz solos followed by screaming Black Metal chromatic stabs, followed by Eastern sounding Drone, followed by pretty much whatever they want next.

The important thing is, this experimentation with texture and sound is never at the expense of the actual songs themselves. Never rushed, ideas and motifs are given the time and space to evolve and change within the context of each song. In extremis you could argue a couple of the tracks are a little longer than they could be, Dark Horse and 0=2 for instance. However, listening to each track on its own though, it would be criminal to cut anything out. It is more likely that the ample 64-minute run time of the album isn’t helped by putting the two longest tracks back-to-back in the running order.

(The longest track, “0=2” is my personal highlight, with its unashamed Prog-Rock centre section it is just a delight).

Production values are improved over the band’s earlier efforts; even when the going gets heavy in the more explosive moments, the sound of each instrument and voice remains clear and in its own place in the mix. And it’s important that they do, the musicianship on display is out of the very top drawer, all members deserve credit, including the two guests on Saxophone and “Free Guitar”.

"A superb, and highly individual album from a band unafraid to tread a different path"

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