Friday, March 25, 2011

Bad Mask - 2011 Strange Phrases

Band : Bad Mask
Album : Strange Phrases
Release Year : 2011
Genre : Chaotic / Mathcore / Experimental

Tracklist :
 1. 4 Year Old Lady
2. Celestial Diet
3. Gelnika
4. Armchair Philosopher
5. Alleycat Blues
6. Junkyard Heiress
7. Al Goro
Bad Mask is nothing more than a few nerdy kids from South Jersey. They enjoy all walks of music and they hope it shows in their own. The bastard child of Coalesce and At the Drive In raised by parents Botch and Breather Resist might come somewhere near to describing the sound. Or not. Who the fuck knows. Spunky, quirky, often destructively heavy riffs soar over precise drumming and lyrics about aliens, DMT, and the Illuminati, developing a strange sort of sound that is uniquely Bad Mask.

The foundational noisiness and disorderliness is present on the seven song “Strange Phrases”, but the five piece take the “noisily heavy” idea and make it more heavy in a traditional metalcore sense – Coalesce riffs lose their grounding and their mind and go postal, the all-too-expected vocal style of shrieking wails devolve into throat-tearing low growls, and behind the fret board adventuring bouts of noodling there is a back wall of power-chord crunchiness. Bad Mask meshes two (of the best) styles of metalcore without really letting it be apparent that they’re meshing them in the first place, and as a result, “Strange Phrases” sounds like “Canada Songs” with a big, heavy set of balls.

The record starts off kicking and flailing with “4 Year Old Lady,” the track that initially sparked the comparison I drew to Daughters. The first half of the song is very much in that manner, both vocally and musically. At about a minute in, the early metalcore heaviness kicks in without any warning – the vocals get lower and way more raw, and the band starts to play a semi-breakdown nicely polished with some dissonant string raking. From that point on, the two forms begin to entangle each other, with riffs sectioned off between the group’s two guitarists, one playing a low and crunchy riff while the other plays its harmonized higher fret counterpart, yet with an enchantingly chaotic charm to it. The remaining six tracks don’t stray much from the aforementioned style that Bad Mask lay out for themselves, but that’s not to say that it gets boring or predictable in the least – despite being similar in nature, no two songs sound exactly the same. “Armchair Philosopher,” the fourth track, is a particularly fine example of their “Blood Brothers grow some nads” way of writing songs.

Jangly riffs go stompy in the blink of an eye, traditional hardcore chord progressions get the melodic-yet-dissonant treatment without losing their original soul, and the vocalist’s duality of range doesn’t simply change when the riff does – shrieks creep their way into breakdowns and grunts kick down the door during the hectic parts. I especially enjoy the last minute or so, as Bad Mask bangs out some technical and unorthodox guitar lines, yet in such an angry fashion that you’d imagine them kicking you in the face while doing so (and doing some damage, too). If you’re the kind of person who likes to sink their teeth into what meagerly comes new from this elusive genre, check this out.

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