Physical objects are deemed heavy via simple logic: if it weighs a lot, then it's heavy. Problem solved. When it comes to music, there's wider criteria -- music can be heavy from the tones, speed, and volume it employs, or it can be indirectly heavy, achieving sonic critical mass through less direct means. Molassess's debut full-length Through The Hollow provides an excellent case study in the latter: Through a rich, opulent take on psychedelic rock, the band draws its audience into an introspective mire, a sticky and dark place where thoughts roam free as the body languishes. Here, heaviness is a state of mind.

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Starting as a one-of-a-kind commissioned Roadburn 2019 performance, the band contains a large part of the roster of acclaimed occult rockers The Devil's Blood, including vocalist Farida Lemouchi, guitarists Oeds Beydals and Ron van Herpen, and bassist Job van de Zande. For fans of that group, this is basically a fever dream made reality -- a lot of the same sparkling darkness that made The Devil's Blood so compelling can be found here. The similarities feel like the natural outcome of sharing members than any intentional continuation, though -- Molassess is markedly more introspective, delving into the struggles of the mind and chronicling it through intricate and catchy psychedelic rock.

It seems occult, in the sense that it's a bit like witnessing a ritual of some unknown theology, but to call it "occult rock" almost aims too low. There's a higher calling here.

Molassess aren't so much in the business of riffs as they are pleasingly developed motifs -- the difference being that the entire band takes a hand in reinforcing patterns without just relying on the guitars to carry the tune. All of those layers, stacked up for sonic depth, slot meaningfully into the songwriting. Longer tracks like "Formless Hands" show a capacity for stretching ideas into protracted jams where the whole band shines -- vocals vanish from the mid-section, letting the instrumentals ride a comfortable, lengthy groove before they return to build tension toward the end. There are some tracks that pack riffs, even if they're developed with unusual nuance -- the bassline of "Death Is," in particular, sets my head nodding without fail.

The final track on the album, "The Devil Lives," is in a league of its own -- for one thing, it reminds me heavily of Roky Erikson, whose early contributions to psychedelic rock found their way into the influences of a large number of doom metal bands. That same strain of proto-doom underpins the irresistible cadence of the song, rather like a dark undercurrent underneath a bubbling spring.

Through the Hollow exudes psychedelic decadence, plain and simple. Luxurious layers of guitar, keys, bass, and often mixed percussion create soundscapes where Farida's voice, well suited for mystical swells, settles on top like a smoky, hazy shroud. It feels somehow like dipping into a particularly rich dessert -- only, you can't seem to get your fill.

I could write many more words about the talent behind this band, or the storied past that led to this point, but truthfully, the experience of listening to the album is what sells this -- as it should. Through the Hollow is just dark enough to catch your ear, but full-bodied enough to surpass any single label. Molasses possesses a sort of spiritual heaviness, one that drives deep past your ears, bypasses your intellect, and plunges into the core of your being.

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Through the Hollow released October 16th via Season of Mist.


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