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Mass Worship - Portal Tombs review

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Band: Mass Worship
Album: Portal Tombs
Release date: February 2022

01. Specular Void
02. Portal Tombs
03. Revel In Fear
04. Orcus Mouth
05. Unholy Mass
06. Dunes Of Bone
07. Scorched Earth
08. Empyrean Halls
09. Deliverance

The "M" is silent.

You may remember Mass Worship's 2019 self-titled debut as being the underdog among our 2019 Metal Storm Awards nominees in Hardcore / Metalcore / Deathcore. Figuring out exactly where to place their sound is a bit of a challenge, because, from the way I see it, you can look at it from two directions. Either this is a Swedish death metal band, but whose ambitious explorations have taken their sound deeper into hardcore and sludge, or a deathcore band in love with that Swedeath buzzsaw sound. And since then, it seems like Mass Worship bit even more things into their sound.

For starters, the most obvious mix of genres is death metal and hardcore. "But wait a second!" you might say "Isn't that just deathcore?". And you'd be correct in making that assumption. There are bands like Venom Prison or Xibalba that mix death metal and hardcore but don't feel like what you'd expect from the "deathcore" tag. But that's mostly because of the negative stigma that the label still caries, despite numerous great releases in that genre lately, however it's still a worthy distinction to make. And with deathcore's evolution, you have bands like Mass Worship which kinda feel like an in-between. Whereas I'd shrug off calling their debut "deathcore", I wouldn't be as opposed here.

Maybe part of that is because there's an increased djenty dimension to the album now. And though a lot of it sounds Meshuggah-ish, a lot of it also basically sounds like progressive metalcore, making the blend feel a bit more in line with expectations from the core tag. And for a djent-ish album, it's really rare to hear one doing it with that buzzsaw tone, making the experience even more mortifyingly impactful. And the band that I'm often reminded is Humanity's Last Breath, a djenty deathcore band that also pushed further into making the sound more expansive, and most importantly atmospheric. Portal Tombs, despite its multitude of riffs, melodic solos, and djenty bass, reminds me of Neurosis in its expansiveness more than any deathcore band ever did.

I know I'm turning too much of the review into a namedrop-fest, and I'm not even done adding bands to the mix that would properly explain the scope of Mass Worship's sound here. Part of it is trying to get the point across that this feels like a blend that is building on genre evolutions past and taking them further, but also that it's the kind of album that would appeal to metalcore fans, death metal fans, djent fans, and post-metal fans, but not for the purists of either of those. And even if it's the sound itself that I ogled over for most of the this review, I should also note that it's the songwriting and performances that make me glad it was Mass Worship of all bands that took this step.

Written on 09.02.2022 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.

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