Black Mass – Feast at the Forbidden Tree (Redefining Darkness Records)

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021
Rating: 8.5/10

Staples of the Boston metal scene, Black Mass possess the fervent passion and tenacity to claw their way up the ranks. Previously reviewing 2019’s second album Warlust that kept an 80’s thrash base with blackened, death, and rock nuances, anticipation for the follow-up appeasing the hordes already pleased in this trio’s efforts is evident. Most will not expect any sideway turns or genre bending antics for Feast at the Forbidden Tree – purity a hallmark to treasure, even down to a three-minute “Intro” for the start of the record that features classic horror organ origins giving chase to a heads down scream and Destruction/Venom-like thrash mechanics.

Wielding weapons of axes and drums, the methods to chaos continue into channeling aggressive and raw speedy riffs/tempos into palatable arrangements from massive headbanging, transferring energy release until the next salvo launches into the aural landscape. Blasting sequences punctuate key Venom/Razor-like rhythms for “Unholy Liberations”, while the galloping measures and stop/start transitions during “Nothing Is Sacred” ensure swirling madness to drain any frustration into the abyss. The three-piece understand how to fill their sound with tasty tidbits as earworms throughout – key speed lead breaks that have little squeals, taps, or circular refrains, specific bass lines that command extra attention, or the subtle shifts in tempo and progressive fills to make “They Speak in Tongues” and “Dead to the World” two specific standouts. Topping things off are the sadistic, raspy roar from guitarist Brendan O’hare – his delivery and punctuation of specific lines sure to appease those into early Sodom, Slayer, and Cronos of Venom. The cover art from Mike Hoffman also gives the record a bit more of a fantasy illustration magnificence that one would expect from an 80’s album, adhering to the throwback nature of the band.

Tearing up stages from New England, the USA, and up to Canada, Black Mass know best where to position themselves and stick to an addictive form of raw thrash with blackened/rock textures. Feast at the Forbidden Tree delivers in a bountiful manner – primal and in your face material that the underground maniacs clamor for.

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