Mastiff’s punishing new full-length Plague reeks of an overwhelming despair. Somehow, the band have taken a mind-bending, back-breaking fury that feels simply not of this world and turned it into an album. Plague does not sound like the ballad of a tired, disgruntled worker, and neither does it sound like someone mourning a loss or experiencing some other easily relatable, day-to-day turmoil. The record sounds like the end of the world — and more specifically, the end of our world, as expressed in that nagging force pressing on the corners of our minds as we make our way through our lives suggesting that beyond surface level trouble, something is deeply wrong. Pressing play on Plague beats down the dam holding that tidal wave back with a mountain of utterly crushing riffs. There is no escape.
The band’s music feels very sinister — if you couldn’t tell. They take an array of components related to extreme styles like black metal and sludge and throw a stick of (barely metaphorical) dynamite on the whole array, sparking the creation of some new ruthless beast. Those styles already provide breeding grounds for somehow enthralling and fitting and even needed discomfort, so you can only begin to imagine what their combination sparks. Throughout their newest effort, Mastiff never let up, immersing the listener in a pool of fear, anxiety, and beyond, as they demonstrate how relentlessly heavy music can morph into sonic horror. The band sound committed alongside their listeners to going farther… farther…. farther. What have we got left to lose? (Sometimes we have a lot — but you get the idea. Sometimes we can only go forward no matter which direction we’re pointing.)
The final result of their process fits in few, if any boxes. Although it feels incredibly rare to be able to honestly market some music as for fans of Napalm Death and Neurosis — Mastiff fit that category. Their music thunders forward like a steamroller, obliterating preconceived musical notions in service of the songs. These songs feel comprehensibly and well constructed to the point of easily demanding repeated listens, which serves as a kind of extra treat for fans.
If you love extreme metal and don’t get something out of this right away — just keep listening. That’s all there is to it.
Listen below, via Bandcamp. The full album releases 2/1 on APF Records.