A strong debut from a band working in an overcrowded field is always a good thing to hear, and that’s definitely the case with the debut cdep (a strange format choice in the usually vinyl orientated hardcore/crust scene) from Twisted Mass.
Indebted to the downtuned sounds that have been pouring out of northern Europe for the last decade or so in the wake of Skitsystem kicking the fucking hinges off the door for punk bands to incorporate death metal guitar tones, their membership is equally drawn from the punk and metal scenes locally featuring current and ex-members of Division’s Ruin, Abbadon Incarnate, Droppin’ Bombs, Refraction and On Pain of Death.
“Behind the Veil” is a powerful start that sets out their stall clearly and outlines the metallic crust sound of the band confidently, and suggests that the band have a natural personality of their own. Next track “Vengeance” however feels weirdly over long. It’s not, in the grand scheme of things, it’s about four minutes or so, but it just drags on a little longer than it should – certainly the fade out at the end kind of suggests they weren’t sure how to end it.
Similarly, “Scorched Earth” strays a little too far into generic territory and should really have been left off here. It’s the only truly weak song on here – I’ve heard it before and it doesn’t stick in the memory in any way. Really, while these two aforementioned songs aren’t awful by any means, they serve to make me think this might have been better as a three song 7″ rather than a five song cd.
“Weeping City” is the best song here and definitely shows what they’re capable of – it also perfectly showcases their natural flair for marrying metal precision to hardcore ferocity – there’s even a little hint of “Necroticism” at play in the guitars here, throughout all the songs in fact, amongst the d-beat bludgeon. There’s a little blast beat section towards the end of “Leopold’s Chalice” that’s deftly placed and works wonders – indeed Karl Leavy’s galloping drums are one of the strong points throughout the ep.
A good hardcore punk band requires a steady yet energetic rythym section, and that rock solid foundation is definitely something this band are aware. Aisling Meyler also gives a ferocious performance vocally, sounding genuinely feral throughout, and while her timing is a little behind the beat in places it actually adds to the charm of the sound overall.
What do Twisted Mass have going on that the 700 other patch clad bands with the Havoc Records back catalogue in their record collections don’t? Well, it’s still early days and they’re not quite head and shoulders above the pack yet – certainly a little more quality control to weed out the “I’ve heard this riff before” moments would be a good thing to develop if they’re to really become the killer band they could be.
Indeed part of me thinks they might have been a little over eager in releasing something so soon, and I’d definitely like to see something a little less generic on terms of artwork on the next release. But it’s hard not to be enthusiastic about their prospects based on this initial showing, and certainly recent live shows indicate they’re on the right path.
3/5 – Jamie Grimes ::: 20/11/11