ALBUM REVIEW: Mastiff – Leave Me The Ashes of The Earth
Photo Credit: Stewart Baxter
If you had never heard of Hull and paid attention to the crushingly heavy bands who call it home, you would be forgiven for thinking it was an unescapable hellscape – not the place awarded the status of City of Culture for the whole of the United Kingdom only four years ago. It doesn’t seem like too long ago that Black Tongue kicked down the doors to the metal world with their down tempo, grim take on heavy music and made people take notice of the northern city. However, it seems that the world has slept on a band from the same city who are creating music that is as equally bleak, ferocious and brutal, yet with a completely different approach. They go by the name Mastiff and they deserve every bit of your attention.
The band had already begun to show signs of being a force to be reckoned with their debut album Wrank, displaying the kind of groove-laden sensibilities that you would normally associate with bands from the NOLA region of the United States; but it is with their sophomore full-length Plague that things got really interesting. The band introduced more blackened influences and dialled up the harshness, without sacrificing any of the other key elements of what made their sound unique. Now, with their third full length album Leave Me the Ashes of The Earth, things are getting ugly in the best kind of way.
The first real taste of new music we get on the album is the blistering Fail, a song that leans on the band’s grindcore influences to set things off on a chaotic note. The screeching feedback and blast beats show that Mastiff mean business and are not afraid to batter their audience within an inch of their life. Repulse is a very apt title for the following track. Everything about it is deeply unsettling, the pace may have slowed ever so slightly but the fuzzy, downtuned guitars and emotive vocals are scathing in the delivery. They show just how competent Mastiff are at switching things up at the drop of a hat.
The five-piece have created quite a penchant for short blasts of punishing powerviolence, such as their latest single Midnight Creeper and the following Beige Sabbath, which are both packed full of dense, sludgy guitar tones and throat-shredding vocals. This is a lesson in modern heavy music.
One of the highlights of the album though is the doom drenched Futile, with its thick, low-end section and waves of discordant guitar lines. Even towards the end of the song the guitars maintain the slow, trudging pace, whilst everything else around them speeds up and gets more hectic. The contrast of which makes everything even more interesting.
Album closer Lung Rust is another moment to savour. This swelling, suffocatingly dark song shows the side to Mastiff that they simply don’t show enough, for this writer’s selfish want. The guitars are thicker than a breaststroke through tar and the rumbling bassline only adds to the crushing weight of it all. The vocals are emotive and soaked with despair and dictate the ebb and flow of the song perfectly, along with the frequently shifting drumbeats. The band take all of the best aspects of post-metal heroes such as Neurosis and Cult of Luna and throw in more modern influences to keep things feeling fresh and dangerous.
Mastiff are a band that demand your attention. Hell, they outright deserve it at this point and frankly you deserve to give them your time, because this album will undoubtedly affect you one way or another. This is bleak, this is grim and this is bloody outstanding.
Standout Tracks: Repulse, Midnight Creeper, Lung Rust
For Fans Of: The Acacia Strain, Primitive Man, Full of Hell
Written by: Richard Webb