Anatomy of Black Mass

If there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s blackened thrash. In some ways, it’s the original black metal sound. It’s chaotic and raucous, just like we all love our metal. However, it’s also overtly dark and evil sounding, a constant grind on your senses that still has its moments of solid riffs and brushes with melody. It’s the original basis for a lot of sounds we know well today, and for that we should hope to have as many blackened thrash releases as possible.

Boston’s Black Mass continues to carry the torch for the subgenre with their latest release, Warlust. There are so many classic sounds on this record that it’s just a wonderful trip down metal memory lane. It’s a lovely stroll garbed in your favorite studded leather jacket. The riffs are dirty and fast. The vocals are dark and harsh. The rhythm section keeps things as chaotic as it can and keeps a blistering pace. It’s everything you want to just sink your teeth into.

Considering this is a modern take on a fairly established sound, you have to wonder where these ideas come from. Thankfully, the boys of Black Mass are here to fill us in on that. What artists and records led to Warlust? Let’s take a look.

Brendan O’Hare (Guitar, Vocals)

SlayerHell Awaits

Growing up, there were so many bands that influenced me in lots of different ways. There’s honestly too many to mention. I grew up on The Beatles and other 60s and 70s bands that my parents would listen to, then later Kiss got me really obsessed with rock and metal in my teenage years. It would also feel wrong to not mention Pantera‘s major influence on me as a young guitar player, and also as someone who was really not the feeling the whole “screamo” and “metal-core” garbage that they were pushing really hard on kids my age at the time. However, if I were to choose a band that definitely has directly brought me to writing the style of music that Black Mass plays, it would definitely be Slayer, and the album Hell Awaits has always been my favorite.

Hell Awaits literally just fucking rips from start to finish, ending with the same outro that it started with as if it literally comes out of and then goes back into Hell.  I actually remember my parents buying it for my birthday when I turned 15. I really cant choose one song to praise enough from it as the whole thing is literally perfect. I will however say that the part in “Necrophiliac” where he says, “Lucifer takes my dark soul down to the fiery pits of Hell” might be one of the most metal and evil moments in music history. This album played a major part in making me want to play thrash and, more importantly, making sure that if I do it was gonna be fucking savage and evil. There is no point in trying to replicate such an album but I definitely take inspiration from it to this day when I am writing.

Cristiano Azevedo (Bass)

Sepultura Beneath The Remains

I am one guy who really never knows how, or, really enjoy the question of what album influences me. I never really know how to answer, do I pander to a reader or do I answer it with some obscure album that influences me? I’m truly inspired by a lot of music and non- metal included. Meanwhile if any album I could pick it would be Sepultura’s Beneath The Remains. Sepultura and I are both from Belo Horizonte, and if you are a crystal rubber that’s some mystical shit! In reality it was a common bond between Brendan and I as we were starting Black Mass. When I had first heard Beneath, I listened to it mostly from a thrash guitar piece and a great piece of work until we started covering “Inner Self” at some of our shows.

I noticed little differences and nuances in Paulo’s bass part writing which really helped a different approach for me to write (what I think) interesting bass lines. I also appreciate how this album is their rawest and thrashiest as well as innocent on how they approached their writing but not trying to really be Hollywood and over produced (although it’s their first American recording). I can’t end this without giving a definite shout out to any album Geezer is on, especially Black Sabbath‘s debut album (14 year-old me would agree) and as well as Pino Palladino’s body of work because that guy can make a two not groove be the hardest thing to play he’s so in the pocket. With a mix of my brief mentions, some of these guys gave me scalar/ rhythmic/ thrash ideas which come out in my body of work.

Alex Fewell (Drums)

Metallica – Master of Puppets

I think it might come off as kind of a cliché for someone in a thrash band to list Metallica as one of their biggest influences, but the truth is this album is kind of where it all started for me. I’d been playing drums and taking lessons since I was about 9 or 10 years old but never really had any desire to apply it anywhere. I didn’t really listen to music in my own time or have any real drive to play it with other people yet. My father was a jazz guitarist and music professor, so he had always made sure that I was learning how to play an instrument from a young age but it wasn’t until this album that I had found something I enjoyed enough to actually pick up the drum sticks outside of a lesson. My father would drag me to the local record shops as a child to flip through the vinyl before I was old enough to think that was cool and he had one of the clerks pick out a “rock tape” for me.

After that I started diving a lot deeper into bands like Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, and even deeper into death metal with Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, and of course Death, but it really all started with this album. The fast-paced nature of the music was unlike anything I’d ever heard before and I couldn’t get enough of it. Getting to play drums in that vein is an even better feeling, so I feel like my arbitrary child-like decision to pick up drums paid off in some ways (but definitely not during the load out haha).

Comments