I’m going to start this article with a story, and then we’ll dive into the EP itself. So for those who don’t know, I play in a local thrashy/sludge band called Mask Of Sanity, and at the tail end of July, we had a chance to share a bill with Inferno Sunn. We had never heard them before, and none of us knew what to expect. All we knew was that there’s this fresh new band, and the idea behind that was intriguing in and of itself.
Fast forward to the start of the gig, Inferno Sunn opens the show and immediately goes into the bombastic “Propaganda War Machine” (which also happens to be the opener of the record after the atmospherical track “Lost”) and was immediately thinking, “Holy hell, who are THESE guys!?” I instantly picked up some Sepultura meets Anthrax vibes with that track. All the guys in Mask of Sanity immediately looked at one another and shared the same feeling of being impressed and refreshed, especially since thrash in the Indy scene is somewhat few and far between, aside from the projects that I’m in. The best part of this whole scenario was, it happened to be their very first gig ever, and they sounded like they had been doing it forever! It was really humbling and exciting to witness.
The thrash Trio consists of Sam Hepfer on guitars/vocals, Adam Schaefer on bass guitar, and Tommy Cantin on drums. When their EP Fidelity came out on July 22nd, I immediately streamed it (I eventually bought my own physical copy) and sunk my teeth into the music. The band claims to draw influences from Metallica, Rush, Black Sabbath, Pantera, Slayer, etc. and it’s very easy to see where these influences would creep in. For instance, with a song like, “Sick,” the band starts with this slow almost doom-like groove that can be traced back to early Black Sabbath, and then when the group brings up the tempo, it immediately reminds me of early Metallica and Anthrax. Sam’s vocals in particular on this track take a lot of cues from the ‘Hetfield’ school of delivery, but in a tasteful way that isn’t incredibly blatantly obvious.
The tail end of the record with songs like “Inferno Sunn” and the title instrumental track “Fidelity” show the band going more in a heavy rock and almost progressive direction. With “Inferno Sunn,” I was picking up influences from bands such as Iron Maiden, Mastodon, and even Soundgarden in some areas within the riffing style. It shows that the group is willing to do more than just straight ahead pummeling thrash and isn’t afraid to venture a little outside of that particular spectrum.
“Fidelity” has a lot of cool off-time style riffs and slows down in the middle with a bass solo performed by Adam Schaefer. This is really neat to hear simply because the days of bass players standing out and almost taking the lead spot is pretty unheard of in this day and age, but the band is willing to bring it back to the forefront and remind everyone that the bass is just as much of a competent instrument as the drums or the guitar. Tommy’s drumming really shines on this track in particular, and when the band plays this song live, he let’s loose and shows everyone what he’s made of. Though the writing structure is somewhat repetitive, this particular track exposes the amount of talent the group has, and in many ways, highlight’s their chemistry.
Overall, this record is a very fine first outing for the band, considering they only recently got around to performing live and this is more than likely the first few songs the group had written together. I would say that the potential here is substantial. The group clearly wears their influences on their sleeve, and the songwriting is impressive but not entirely refined yet. However, it still proved to be a very enjoyable listen. This is the first local Indy band that has gotten me excited about the scene in a long time, and I look forward to seeing and hearing what these guys accomplish in the next few months and beyond.
Propaganda War Machine