Mastiff – Plague (APF Records)

Hold everything. We can skip 2019 and carry straight on into a new decade as far as heavy music is concerned because Mastiff have released the album of the year and it’s only February. Their first album for APF Records is that damn good. It’s a disgustingly heavy album that grabs elements of all the best metal genres to create an unstoppable sonic force. This five piece from Hull don’t worry about things like solos and melody and unless it’s that haunting tone they bust out occasionally, they’re only interested in bludgeoning you into oblivion. If Agnostic Front had been part of the NOLA scene, they’d have sounded something like Mastiff.

Sickening doom sits effortlessly next to modern hardcore, that’s interspersed with bursts of grindcore and plenty of the same howling feedback that Eyehategod made their name with. Not satisfied with aural violence, Plague is also laden with subtle samples of desperate crying and wailing, that create a feeling of unease which reminds me of the first time I heard Today Is the Day twenty years ago. Bubonic is the go to track on the album, and showcases perfectly the previously mentioned influences. I couldn’t complete this review without doffing my cap to singer Jim Hodge, whose guttural vocals are something to behold. The poor fella must have toilet issues after every gig.

It’s an ordeal to get through Plague in a single sitting. You need to lie down and take in what’s just happened to you or possibly take yourself to A&E and get checked out for concussion related symptoms. Heavy music needs more bands like Mastiff, who, with Plague, have unleashed the new benchmark for heaviness on an unsuspecting world. Would somebody please fetch me some ice… Chris Andrews

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