Why San Francisco’s Mass needs a press campaign for a four-song limited-edition EP is beyond me. By the time you read this, all two hundred copies of Holocene #6 will probably be gone. It’s a damn shame too, because the band’s hostile, peppy metallinoise scratches that crusty scab on my heart that’s existed ever since Amphetamine Reptile stopped releasing new material.
“Trbovlje” and “Human Shield” coat nasty grooves and blustery Chicago math in a punk/metal finish. Riffs slam-bang and fracture like they’re bouncing around the back of an armored truck in a high-speed chase; hairpin turns and engine-gunning rumbles from new bassist Andrew Lund (from Lower Forty-Eight) are frequent. And Matt Waters’s intermittent saxophone skronk clinches it: Maybe the Mass doesn’t do improv, but Holocene #6 and free jazz breathe the same fire. There’s enough going on such that the Mass could function fine as an instrumental trio if Waters ever blew out his lungs from all that screaming.
It all culminates in closer “I Lirska Bistrica,” in which all of the Mass’s pre-set modes — groove, punish, freak-out — get addressed over a twelve-minute wasteland of sinister doom and dueling guitar/sax solos. With ears thus laid to waste, I am free to admire Jon Wayshak’s revolting artwork in the liner notes — and to hope that those other 199 happy, rotten souls feel as lucky as I do to own this album.