Taking form around 2012, Black Mass are a group of abrasive thrashers that hail from Boston, Massachusetts (yes, I too wonder if the band name is a play on words). Their first full-length Ancient Scriptures hit the scenes in 2015, which had a very coarse, Venom-like shadow atop everything. Early this year, they offered up a follow-up titled Warlust. Here they de-burr some of the sharp surfaces and tighten up their sound significantly.
It becomes known quite quickly that the band aims for a more traditional and old-school style of thrash. Higher shrieks? Check. Raspy yet comprehensible vocals? Present. Over-the-top clean production? Completely absent (thank God). All of this prevents anything from sounding generic, and what helps is that they don’t focus on only one riffing style the entire time. “Graveyard Rock” actually gauges a more welcoming feeling, fusing rock ‘n roll vibes with the thrash distortion and attitude. The bouncy bass-lead number “Bible Stomp” reinforces this as well, and it has some of the best chord progressions.
Rest assured though, Warlust is predominantly meant to be mean and hostile. “Programmable Life Forms” is a solid barrage of speed metal attacks, and despite the vocals being a bit annoying at first, it’s a nasty tune! “Hellhounds” is also another standout partially because of how the soft interlude track leads into it. Coming in at full-blast straight to the skull from start to finish allows for a threatening feel.
Really, Black Mass did exactly what up-and-coming thrashers should do – take an older template that sits well and add your own spices. Their first effort nailed the former half of that, and this one completed it. Nothing overstays its welcome, and although there is the occasional nitpick, the final product is a masterpiece. Anybody who considers themselves a thrash metal fan should hear this immediately.
Warlust came out on February 15th, 2019 through Iron Shield Records. You can stream it digitally and find the CD, cassette, t-shirts and other merch on their Bandcamp page.