Messa
Feast For Water

Italy’s Messa impressed with their 2016 debut LP Belfry, a mysterious occult doom meets drone hybrid with a seriously powerful vocalist and righteous rock-out attitude. Back for round two, Feast for Water finds Messa ready to build upon the potential and high quality of their debut with another sultry batch of doomy delights. Vintage sounding occult doom with female vocals is hardly a unique proposition on paper, but Messa manage to break the mould and craft a sound that shows an obvious admiration from the forefathers of the genre’s rich past, yet only scratches the surface of a sound they can call their own. Despite its overall high quality, Messa’s foray into drone territory on the debut didn’t really hit home with me like the rest of their compelling and eclectic song-writing, so I was particularly interested to hear how they balanced the elements on the all-important sophomore album.

Right off the bat, introductory song “Naunet” casts an ominous vibe, as light drone musings and eerie atmospherics set Feast for Water in motion. However, it’s second track “Snakeskin Drape” that really gets the ball rolling, unfurling through a slow burning intro before unleashing into a rocking doom stride. Sara’s excellent vocals and smoky melodies standout immediately, while the driving riffs and straightforward drumming lock into a tight and catchy central groove. Topped with soulful guitar licks, it’s a killer song and further indication of the band’s talents. At a tick over five minutes, along with the intro and outro tracks, it’s easily the album’s shortest, most concise composition. Thankfully, the lengthier cuts aren’t detrimental to the flow and cohesiveness of the album. Clever dynamic shifts, stellar guitar and vocal performances, and the compelling nature of the song-writing’s slow burning fuse ensures Messa keeps the listener engaged, regardless of the pace or volume they are operating at.

Messa favor taking a more languid approach with their song-writing, wedging bluesy bursts of rocking doom with soulful psych deviations and sparse sections of ambiance and careful restraint. The combination is executed with great cohesion and the slower, more subtle and melancholic passages sustain interest and feature some stunningly affective melodies and tender vocals. “Leah” is a sublime example of the different elements coalescing fluidly, featuring another fantastic vocal turn, warm bass tones, and guitars that flip from addictive doom dirges to somber passages and tasteful embellishments. Messa maintain a strong level of consistency throughout the album, never succumbing to excessiveness despite the hefty song lengths and adventurous spirit.

The reduction in ambient drone indulgence is a pleasant change to my ears and though Feast for Water comes across as not quite as heavy, upbeat or musically versatile as the debut, in many ways it builds upon existing strengths, tightens up their sound, and feels like a logical step forward and refinement in Messa’s evolution. It’s also not without its adventurous turns and genre manipulation. For example, the darkly mysterious “Tulsi” rips out some tasty psychedelic guitar licks, swampy grooves, and swaggering doom riffage amidst violent bursts of blackened blasting which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Myrkur release. Messa’s exceptional ability to make disparate elements work with classy cohesion sets them apart and is well showcased throughout Feast for Water.

Messa clearly possess a passion for rocking, bluesy old school doom, from Pentagram to the mighty Black Sabbath, but they craft a sound with enough contemporary flourishes and individuality to trump many of their peers in the crowded domain of female fronted old school/occult doom bands. Messa’s debut proved a wonderfully diverse and eclectic affair. By comparison, Feast for Water is a little more restrained and focused in its song-writing approach, creating a dense and emotive tapestry of mournful, candlelit passages of dark beauty, soulful blues, and fat servings of rollicking old school doom with a contemporary twist. In doing so, Messa have raised the bar again and crafted a sophomore album to be reckoned with, solidifying their place in the upper tier of the current doom scene.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
April 26th, 2018

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    the keys on this remind me of Bohren & Der Club Of Gore. this is amaaaazing.kind of like a Electric Wizard meets Beach House. I’m floored.


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