A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Second album from Finland’s Mask of Satan blends Old School Thrash with death metal precision and a doomy pall on Underneath the Mire.
It’s hard not to interpret Finland’s Mask of Satan by the classic horror movie La machera del Demonio, better known as Black Sunday in the English-speaking world, from which they derive their name. In Mario Bava‘s Gothic masterpiece, a witch returns from beyond the grave to seek her revenge for a hideous execution during the witch hunts.
On Underneath the Mire, the second album from the Finnish doom/thrash metal quartet, the avenging spectres would be the ghosts of old school thrash, death, doom, and cheap exploitation horror. They take us back to a time before everything had to be poppy and polished to perfection, when even gnarly metal and weird experimental music are expected to have slick, flashy marketing campaigns. They hurtle us back to a time when creativity counted above all, to the lofi slashers of the late 70s and early 80s when brutal wonders could be had on the cheap, raw and weird and unique.
Underneath the Mire will scratch a similar itch. Do not take “raw” and “lofi” to mean un-accomplished or lacking in execution, though. Underneath the Mire is 9 tracks of brilliantly stripped-down Old School Thrash, Death, and Doom. The hybrid works astoundingly well, as the Thrash pairs well with the technicality of Death Metal while the Doom keeps things a little more soulful. The Thrash elements help keep the sometimes campy goofiness of Death Metal to a minimum, cutting Brother W’s cookie monster vocals with blistering blastbeats and walls of wailing guitars. Mask of Satan may be influenced by old, weird, cheap horror but they certainly play it straight.Underneath The Mire by Mask Of Satan
That makes all the difference in a genre where execution matters above all. If you lean in and pay attention you’ll notice how songs seamlessly break into double-time like “Ritualistic Incantation.” Or the throbbing bass intro of “Languish,” which slowly builds like an electrical storm, as screaming lead guitar pierces the gloom like white lightning.Underneath The Mire by Mask Of Satan
Execution is everything in Metal. It is exceptionally clear that Mask of Satan know exactly what they’re doing and have put an incredible amount of work into writing and recording Underneath the Mire. Like those old Horror movies they’re so inspired by, even something cheap still takes a massive amount of work. There has clearly been a massive amount of effort put into Underneath the Mire. The performances are flawless, as is the production and engineering of W.horepreacher, who does an admirable job of arc welding the screech of classic Thrash with the low end that Death and Doom so often require.
The end result is a metal album you can listen to again and again, hitting repeat and letting the guitars wash over you like a curse from beyond the grave, like a sulfuric cloud hanging low over a damned graveyard.Underneath The Mire by Mask Of Satan