Review by Chris Pratl on February 28, 2018.
What a punch to the face it is when a recording can literally just assail you from the first chords, and Masada's new EP, Hideous Rot does just that. After the solid demo called Suffer Mental Decay the buzz in the underground was that the full-length will be just as great, if not better. Well, we don't have a full-length just yet, but this 15-minute EP will suffice with repeated listens.
I will say that after you ingest the sickening 'Hideous Cerebral Pulp' and all of its stench-filled glory, you get a true feel for what Masada is really all about: no-nonsense, no frills or bells and whistles death metal in its rawest and ugliest form. The galloping feel to the track sets the tone nicely with a generous mix of old death metal like we old farts used to enjoy back when...and still do. The 'Fluteotherapy' will leave you wondering just what the hell happened to Ian Anderson (look him up, and shame on you if you don't know!) to illicit such profane and credible abusing of the flute. That said, it's very interesting, and after a second listen it's actually pretty cool to take in for what it is. The breathy accompaniment was a nice touch, but sadly some elitists probably won't get it, and that's ultimately their loss, especially since it's composed by one Clive Jones, a member of the legendary Black Widow. I suggest you check them out as well before passing such judgments.
'Exist to Rot' is just what the death metal docs ordered when this instrumental tune was crafted, and it's what is sadly missing in a lot of modern era DM. The bass work from Matt Dwyer is really good and the sound is pretty decent in the mix. It takes technical proficiency and primitive inspiration and meshes them to a subtly engaging zenith. With that, we're dropped face-first into the cerebral-challenged 'Suffer Mental Decay', which has all of the earmarks of said title. The thick, suffocating mix lifts Cazz Grant's vocals to a disgustingly even tempo where they gather volatile visages and brutal imagery like kids collect lightning bugs in jars. This is what constitutes ugly death metal from the sound to the vocals, and it proves that music can be devoid of polish and still retain some majesty.
When the EP ends 'Toxic Unreality' starts off much like a Schuldiner-Death inspired piece, then quickly turns on the heels and seems to slowly descend like a mass of shadows to the floor and creep along the baseboards of the room, infecting the entire area. I usually gravitate towards a true feeling of dim and dismal essence when listening to old-school death metal or black metal, and with what Masada has offered I wasn't disappointed in anything except the length; I still await the full-length, but this will do for now.
I have already sat through the EP three times and I like it more with each go-through. I think fans of the demo-era of some of death metal's vast underground will truly appreciate this effort. Keeping in mind the band's obvious penchant for the familiar, oft-criticized 'thick' production on the last two tracks, you should have no problem grasping the feel if you're stomach lining is so inclined.
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)