Review: “Burn” by Messora

Now in their six-six-sixth year as an entity, Messora is the kind of shape shifting act that makes contortionists itch until they bleed. In the loosest possible way they could be considered a Progressive Death Metal act but in truth their critically claimed 2019 debut album “The Door” was a sonic montage that also saw pieces of Thrash, Doom, Black and even Post-Metal making up the picture. To be fair to the Montréal Québec Canadians, they have often cited influences as far apart as David Bowie and Opeth. Since their dying day with that album they released the storm chasing standalone single “Forever as I Beg” in 2021, accompanied by a Nine Inch Nails cover and a footnote that suggested that drummer Joey Larivière had stepped aside with Sam Neumann replacing him…

In “Burn” we’re presented with nine new cuts which find Messora in similarly disturbing avant-garde territory to bands like Avatar, an emotive album formed of blood, sweat and tears that pulls in all directions in almost schizophrenic fashion. Opening cut “Seed” is a dark, almost mantra like affair with quirky off kilter moments between passages of stomping slow Doom crush, the jagged edges appearing as you climb the mountain and look down, so should you fall there is nothing but death. Zach Dean’s vocals are crushing and powerful, that of a wrathful God sparing no mercy on those who stand in his way before the eerie melodic guitar fade concludes the track on a melancholic note that disturbs with its dark beauty. Metronomic rhythmic dynamics with flavours of Imperial Triumphant come forth in “Leeches“, a few ethereal touches giving the feeling of the descent into madness as the dark melodies twist and contort, turning mirages of beauty into ugly distortions with seamless twists and turns and sickening tempo changes. The dull ache of “Waking” then serves as a calming piece with influences that stretch back into the kind of work that made Alice In Chains Kings and begs for an acoustic makeover as it bleeds out, Dean’s clean vocals absolutely spellbinding. It is very much the calm before the storm as “Burning” reaches into the chasm and pulls forth something that borders on Technical Death Metal, exchanging beauty for brutality as Dean becomes a bloodthirsty Demon on the hunt. There is still time for a moment of melody within the chaos, as a tribal drum pattern and acoustic guitar moment gives the feel of “Canyon Jam” by Sepultura before the annihilation begins once more with violent turbulence.

Mid album cut “Respite” is exactly what the title suggests, building on the dull ache of “Waking” with Post-Grunge moments and an eerie quality wrapped in clean vocals as Zach Dean harness his inner Matt Holt and creates something of which Nothingface would have been proud. Later on “Calling” repeats that style choice with a wonderful solo and some little almost Jazz nuances giving it sanity spiralling qualities. The style variations across the album intertwine incredibly well with a clear vision and thought put into the transitions not only between the passages within songs but between the songs themselves. That means that something that could have been a more challenging listen plays out much more smoothly than it would in any other context, you couldn’t shuffle these songs and get the same experience that you do from listening to it front to back, as much as the cuts stand up in isolation. A vicious little ditty, “Ashes” rumbles in disturbing fashion with an unpredictably chaotic nature as it changes direction with an evil grin in dark and swirling moods, while hiding a twisted instrumental interlude piece at its finale. Not quite the sting in the tale but one that would make you start to run if it crept up behind you on a dark night. That ploughs straight into “Chasm“, an acoustic melodrama with cinematic qualities that feels like the credit sequence at the end of a horror movie. You might expect an album that paints in dark and light in equally twisted measure to end on something meek and mild but “Winter” instead compresses the violence and the melody into one skull battering entity that leaves you wondering which way is up. Messora have grown organically and can now create alchemy of the finest order, the Brothers Grimm quake in their boots [8.5/10]

Track Listing

  1. Seed
  2. Leeches
  3. Waking
  4. Burning
  5. Respite
  6. Ashes
  7. Chasm
  8. Calling
  9. Winter

Burn” by Messora is out 2nd December 2022 and should be available over at bandcamp

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