Sonic Mass
You People Never Learn

London’s soul cooking, noise-ridden psychedelic doom titans Sonic Mass were a complete and total happy accident for me on Bandcamp.  I couldn’t even recall to you at this point in time what exactly I was trying to find instead but one start to finish listening of You People Never Learn made a believer out of me and I ended up buying both of the band’s limited edition full-lengths.  I’ve heard The Sword tossed around a few times in describing these guys and I don’t even hear a fraction of it.  These guys are plenty catchy in the riff department and full of blooming psychedelic patterns but the tones are dirty, the distortion maxed and the solos/leads are the stuff of nightmares.  There’s an authentic and unique signature to the guitarwork, mirage on the move rhythms and howling vocals that makes this album and its predecessor All Creatures Strange must haves for fans of pounding, sludgy, research chemical doom.

“It Came from the Sun” crackles to life with the static of amps breaking up and harnessing signals from space, until the brief drone is strangled by the serpentine tail of Hendrix gone to hell style leads, mega-fuzzed blues riffs and bass tones that go as deep as the guitars.  Dave’s drumming is combat-focused with vigorous speed fluxes and rapid fire fills peppered with pocket groove and vibrant cymbal splashes.  Guitarist/vocalist Nick belts his vocals with a gritty, melodic singing style filtered through some buzzy distorted CB fuzz.  Mostly this track is about the instrumentation and it’s in the red, on the verge of white hot; leads, solos and riffs played in the melted face mushroom murder key of Titan, Mammatus, Blue Cheer, Hendrix, early Electric Wizard, Sir Lord Baltimore, Ash Ra Tempel, Colour Haze and The Blood Farmers…of course Black Sabbath and St. Vitus could very well have something to do with these shenanigans as well since I’m hearing some straight-up Dave Chandler damage in the freak fuck guitar solos.  The twin guitars never stop unravelling layers of the cosmos and manage to always come up with something meaningful rather than basic jam band status quo.  And despite points of reference…Sonic Mass really got their own thing happening.

For example “Biker Satania” runs big fat doom tonalities and seeping wah licks over a barely contained blast of punk rock rage intent on frying up some SST goose (Black Flag and BL’AST).  The solos still sonically destroy braincells with a progressive Fripp-hammer cross-pollinated with Hendrix and Chandler squalor.  “Butcher of Brogdael” is an eye-popping, ass burning electric chair zapper with endless fill/roll battery pushing forth demonic harmonized riffs and quaking stoner/doom grooves.  At 1:03 a walking bass line sways in and out of the guitar lines’ sudden, newfound smoothness and restraint which allows for some serious soulful vocal turns to take center stage.  Then suddenly the trip gets violent as your hair turns to insects, your face splits from the inside out and black static crawls the walls in a soulstorm of manic percussive locomotion and wild solo/lead trades going from breakneck to bonged-out to screaming mad and finally settling into a groove that’s tough enough to unplug a giant’s bowel blockages.

“Butcher of Brogdael” is an easy album standout that sets the record up for the total modern doom classic “Tears of Galactus.”  This is the peak of a trip on really stellar shrooms as the phasing, body part displacing, scenery tearing visuals are mimicked by a superb doom groove smothered in dripping, oscillating and very kraut-y Brainticket-esque solos and leads that are progressive without being wanky…rather a total atmospheric headfuck smear bomb.  Madness is held deftly together by Ben’s vaporous bass suffocation and Dave’s straight doom beats whipping up into a runaway thrashing while always fleshing out and expanding what those psychotic guitarists Nick and Josh are up to.  Topped off by the eerie, iconic lyrical simplicity of, “We came back for the living, till they are done giving,” sung in a time-warped caterwaul, this piece is nothing less than a skin squirming success.  Garage-smashed and distortion plowed like Blue Cheer, Sir Lord Baltimore and the mouth-watering fuck all fuzz of Man’s Ruin Records, “Toga” is heavy on the nerve-breaking punk energy turned downward into hellbound grooves, lick duels and wind-whipped string abuse.  The title track opens with an effective Geezer Butler low-end creep before turning into that one weekend I spent on LSA, ambien and valium…flashes of hallucinatory leads, solos, oak felling sludge riffs, rhythmic vortexes and some truly evil imagery stick in my craw though…  Closer “Quadranoid” piles on piercing shuttle transmissions to an old school, unbathed psyche-rock dementia and bone-trampling doom with a knack for thrash gone Hendrix or somethin’ really fuckin’ crazy.

You People Never Learn as well as Sonic Mass’ mind-scalding debut All Creatures Strange are both well worth the time of hardened psyche-travelers who like their guitar work sizzling, the riffs unholy and the pacing full of chopped-up, temporal distortion.  One listen made an instant fan and buyer outta me, so go see how this neuron nuked numbness suits you!  Good fuckin’ stuff…

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
November 24th, 2016


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