Messa – Belfry (Aural Music)

Thursday, 26th May 2016
Rating: 7/10

“Scarlet doom” it is for Messa on their debut album, Belfry. A relatively fresh-faced outfit from Italy, Messa are highlighted, punctuated, et al by the wavy, sometimes off-key vocals of Sara. In earnest, this is off-the-beaten path doom with numerous leads taken from the ‘70s hum-drum of Pentagram, Blue Cheer, and friends. It’s somewhat comparable to what Sabbath Assembly are doing at the present time, and if we want to look a bit around the corner, Blood Ceremony and Purson, although let’s be up front: Messa don’t drop back into the ‘60s. (All of this decade-hopping can get a smidge confusing.)

So let’s start with Sara, who prefers to not take the mystical route of her female contemporaries. Rather, she has more of loose rock vibe to her voice, more suited for knocking tunes (and beers, perhaps) in dive bars than trooping back to the days of psychedelia. Her croon can be enticing at times, like on “Hour of the Wolf” and “New Horns,” although the latter succeeds because of its monstrous guitar solo. There’s a SubRosa quality to “Babalon,” which is not surprisingly, the album’s prime video cut, an exploratory, haunting jam that the band is unable to capitalize upon.

One could probably do without the handful of instrumental in-between songs, some of which suck the momentum out of Belfry. Per the usual with doom, you’re going to be saddled with a slow-grower, stuck-in-sludge number like “Outermost” as well as “Blood,” which takes a few nods (and moves) from Sunn O))), a band more doom outfits would be wise to avoid aping. So in reality, Belfry feels more cobbled together than it needs be, clearly the product of a young band not quite self-aware enough to know where they’re heading.

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