Mastiff – ‘Plague’

By Liam Knowles

With a name like Mastiff, an album title like ‘Plague’, and song names like ‘Vermin’ and ‘Torture’, you can be sure of one thing: this Hull quintet are NOT beating about the bush. No pretence, no bullshit; ‘Plague’ is eight tracks of pure bleak venom that only the north of England could inspire.

The album opens with ‘Hellcircle’ which, true to its name, begins with the tortured wailing and groaning of damned souls before harsh feedback ushers in the first of many catastrophic riffs. From here on out there’s absolutely zero respite. Be it the grinding carnage of ‘Brainbleed’ or the trudging destructive juggernaut that is ‘Quarantine’; every moment of this record is delivered with the ferocity dialled up to 11 and beyond. Mastiff have taken all the best aspects of their influences, ranging from the irreverent sludge of Eyehategod to the punishing hardcore of Nails, and blended them into something truly terrifying.

With all the above considered, it goes without saying that ‘Plague’ is not an easy listen, and certainly won’t be for the casual metal fan. Jim Hodge’s vocals are so caustic that it takes a few listens for some of the the lyrics to become discernible, and whilst this may cause issues for some, enthusiasts of truly extreme music will appreciate the sheer intensity of the delivery. The production is perfect for the style of music; thick enough that it packs a serious punch but scuzzy enough to not rob it of any bite. Speaking of bite, apparently the English Mastiff has a bite strong enough to break any bone in the human body, which is also true of the crushing nine-minute album closer that is ‘Black Death’.

There’s not much more that can be said about this album that will do it more justice than just listening to it. If you like genuinely heavy music with chest-rattling riffs and buckets upon buckets of snarling rage, put on your chainmail gloves and see if you can handle 30 minutes in the dog cage with Mastiff.

LIAM KNOWLES

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