Release DetailsLABEL Crucial Blast
RELEASED ON 9/13/2005
Perfect Picture of Wisdom And Boldness
posted on 9/2005 By:
Nobody sounds like The Mass. Their second full length is another convincing display of Genre Twister, where left hand is on metal; right foot, jazz; right hand, hardcore; left foot, indie sensibility. And whoever is spinning that little square cardboard spinner is a warped genius, because stretched, bent, and contorted into a most unnatural position, The Mass has somehow discovered enough balance and strength to turn that posture into some kind of Ralph Macchio flying crane knockout-kick stance. The band’s influences are so well integrated that their sound is near incomparable, but when you hear them play, it sounds completely natural.
Although Crucial Blast’s release of City of Dis came out (and was reviewed here) only a year ago, the album has actually been around since 2003. The band has obviously kept themselves busy during these intervening years, because Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness is a much more developed and intricately crafted collection. Not only are the songs more polished, but also much longer (the eight tracks span an hour), which gives time for countless turns and forays. The band has clearly progressed, although progress isn’t necessarily synonymous with improvement. Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness is probably a better album than City of Dis, but there are times when I miss the raw, impetuous vibe of the last album. On balance though, The Mass gains as much as they’ve lost through progression.
Front man Matt Water’s double duty on the saxophone is in and of itself enough to make The Mass a strange bird; the fact that the prominent sax isn’t the most defining element of their sound is remarkable. Maybe it’s because Perfect Picture is my second time around with The Mass, but this time out it seems like the sax is better integrated into the songs, some of which rely upon it heavily, and others that could easily exist without it, although its presence inarguably adds to the color and charm of the music. The Mass’ songs are quite dynamic, but the band maintains a consistent and distinct personality. On “Little Climbers of Nifelheim” they shimmy effortlessly through transitions to passages of pensive grooves, desperado surf punk mania, and dissonant, syncopated math metal. The minute and a half freak out “Gas Pipe” is a flight of the psychotic bumblebee, but the song is followed by the 180 of the Percoset and sax at twenty paces of the somber “Meditation on Some the Carcass”, which is instrumental for the first six of its seven minutes. Acrimonious and angular at times, and blissfully meditative and insular at others, Perfect Picture spans the gamut of mood and styles. Although the band has developed their songwriting, there are a few occasions that could have been edited down, and it seems very likely that The Mass’ best work is still to come. Impressive, as Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness is already a must hear for open-minded fans.
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