Black Mass Conjures the Dark Past of Thrash Metal As “They Speak in Tongues” (Early Track Stream)
This may seem self-evident, but I strongly prefer albums where songs sound different. No joke—especially in the realm of throwback thrash where Boston's Black Mass resides, it's unfortunately common to see albums that are traditional and single-minded to a fault, churning out eight to ten songs that have the same structure, suspiciously similar riffs, and nothing interesting to speak of in the lyrics department. Black Mass, however, are not only able to capture the spirit and sound of early thrash and speed metal, but they put it to good use on Feast at the Forbidden Tree, their third album and their first with Redefining Darkness Records. Though their fusion of thrash, speed is consistently riotous and righteous, they achieve their ultimate goal of sonic violence with a diverse palette, often delving into less common melodic modes to shake things up. From proto-death-metal-leaning savagery to, as you'll hear in new single "They Speak in Tongues," Mercyful Fate-esque heavy metal, Feast at the Forbidden Tree is a jubilant banquet of bloody delights that fascinates while also strongly evoking nostalgia. Listen to "They Speak in Tongues" below:
The song starts with an anticipation-building introduction that slowly ramps up, each riff bouncing along with an unusual syncopated groove, and the falsetto scream that opens up the verse is a clear nod to the band's appreciation of the aforementioned Mercyful Fate—however, after a few gleeful, dark theatrical verses, the song switches into a punishing second act entirely of their own creation. Whereas much of the album operates only at breakneck speeds, the mid-paced swagger here lets the massive riffs ring out with a little more strength. The eponymous 'tongues' come into play to introduce this part, burying the whole song in a cavalcade of reverberations before a sinister melody breaks free.
This vein of throwback-heavy thrash metal is hard to perfect: it's evil, but it's also fun, which is a hard thing to describe and harder still to cultivate. That balance is achieved here, and not through calculation or pretense: simply the inevitable byproduct of a band devoted to playing sick riffs really fast. Mission accomplished, folks.
Guitarist/vocalist Brendan O'Hare comments:
This song is about a possession that takes place in a graveyard ultimately resulting in a total schizo freak out. It was also partially influenced by an acid trip I had a couple years ago when I was hearing voices while trying to sleep. I honestly heard voices speaking in tongues that sounded like backwards Latin or something. Lyrically I wanted to take it more in a story telling direction and take the listener through the whole experience.
Feast at the Forbidden Tree releases September 10th via Redefining Darkness Records.