Album review: MOSS – Horrible Night

Rise Above – Out Now.

The Bass guitar and Doom Metal are two concepts that seem to go hand-in-hand and are inter-connected to such an extent that one simply can’t imagine the one without the other. Well, the Southampton-based trio Moss are flying in the face of this tradition: for the last thirteen years they have been pounding out their slow, mournful, atmospheric compositions without the assistance of the above-mentioned instrument.

“How is this even possible?”, I hear you ask. Through a wall of distortion, that’s how – distortion of the type that is capable of bringing down a building, which you can hear in its full glory on the band’s third studio album “Horrible Night”, released with the seal of approval of Lee Dorian’s specialist label, Rise Above records.

In comparisson to its predecessor “Sub Templum” (2008), “Horrible Night” is a more conventional, straight forward affair. Out are the experimental atmospheric passages, vocal variations and elongated compositions, like the thirty five and a half minute (!) “Gate III: Devils from the Outer Dark: Walpurgis/The Coming Of 13/Exitus”, which made Moss a unique musical offering to their old-school fans.

This time around, frontman Olly Pearson seems to rely heavily on Ozzy Osbourne’s (Sabbath-era) clean vocal approach for inspiration, while Dominic Finbow’s riffs might still be as heavily distorted as we would have liked them to be but are, dare I say it, more easily digestible than before.

This means that anyone not naturally into slow/heavy Doom Metal, but who can cope with slow repetitive drone-y riffs might actually be able to appreciate this album – but not without a great deal of effort on their part.

“Horrible Night”, the opening track of the album, is perhaps the most approachable of all the compositions on offer. Kicking off with a heavy guitar tone and further supported by a slow–paced riff, this eleven minute piece features one of Pearson’s most memorable groovy vocal lines, with a short slow-paced break in the very middle, creating an otherwise unnecessary disruption.

In a similar vein, “Bleeding Year” further solidifies what its predecessor has achieved while “Dark Lady” finds the band treading into Cathedral territory with Person’s vocal sounding, at times, full of anger and despair.

The acoustic guitar themes of “Dreams From The Depths” provide a much-needed sonic break, while the duet of “Coral Of Chaos” and “I Saw Them That Night” present riffs and themes heard earlier in the album (both compositions just about exceeding the ten minute mark).

I will be honest with you: “Horrible Night” is not an easy-listening album, but neither does it strive to be one. You will have to be very committed in order to cope with its constant thematic repetitions and your ears will have to be properly trained and well seasoned in order to withstand the layers upon layers of distorted guitar themes that spew forth from your hard-hit speakers.

Though slightly experimental than before, Moss still justify their description as a monolithic Doom Metal band so if you choose to invest in “Horrible Night”, I suggest that you do so with both respect and caution and consider the fact that you might just have to choose a time when you are in the right mood in order to truly appreciate what the album has to offer.

John Stefanis

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)

Interview with Olly Pearson




 

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