This is a debut full-length album from a band with seasoned musicians based in Phoenix, Arizona. They elegantly mix heavy metal, stoner, sludge metal and doom metal. It is remarkably well done and the high quality of the recording, mixing and mastering of this album makes it a riveting musical journey.
The rawness in Mosara´s music reaches 55 years back, to the time when Blue Cheer came roaring into the hard rock soundscape. Almost every song has a small reference to bands that shaped hard rock and heavy metal. You can hear the echoes from the chugging of the steel mills in Birmingham that inspired the sound of heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, you can hear the influence of doom bands such as Electric Wizard, and of more contemporary US sludge and stoner bands like Mastodon and Kylesa.
Mosara achieve their own raw heavy metal sound by using the standard instruments, no software - no synths. Two distorted guitars in classic metal fuzz, overdrive and distorted mode with wah-wahs, heavy rolling bass that at the same time holds down the rhythm and hits the melodies when the guitars play solos, heavy drumming with frequent use of the cymbals and the shouting vocals over the music. The lyrics are bleak, citing despair and decay.
The album establishes its heavy sound with, ”Clay and Iron, a good metaphor for what is to come. The music dredges along on clay feet in the swamp of the heavy doom metal sound. It starts with slow heavy riffing on one guitar, while the other just holds a fuzzy note waiting for the drums and bass. The shouting vocal comes in, ” Built from fire/Mixed with clay”. There is no beauty here, there is just heavy soaked polluted soil.
The sound is more gloomy on the next monolithic song ”Majestik“. The music trudges steady and heavy with the shouting vocals over it, singing ”Hate fuels your rage/crawl away all decayed”. The song shifts tempo and there is some light guitar string picking before a soaring dark solo guitar takes over and, surprisingly, at some moments it seems like it is referencing the ending chorus of “Hey Jude” by The Beatles.
Fear Merchant begins with a heavy riff, then a reference to Black Sabbath´s “Into the Void” before it slogs along its own heavy way with rhythmic drums, rolling bass and drums and cymbals. The vocals coming in with ” I’m born again under the ashes”. Between the tempo changes there are some lightly played guitar, before the two heavy guitars take over and leads the song to the end, shifting between heavy riffs and solos, the wah-wah in frequent use.
We take a break by the river in Earth God as the song starts with the sound of fresh running water before a lone heavy guitar interrupts the stream. We are in for a slow song with heavy chugs, slow deep bass, cymbals and slow drumming, the vocals shouting”Cold all/your world is so cold”. But over the sludgy sound there is always a guitar soaring, giving a lot of passion to the slowness.
The fifth song ”I Cain” is the shortest on the album. It is a song, in which we are treated with melodic riffs and intense guitar solos before it comes to an abrupt end, after the vocals has ended with ”Bring your death under stone/as we dance on your soul”.
Cypher is the longest song and it might be the most doom metal song on this album. As the album cover shows there might be some nods to the Aztec culture as the vocals come in, “We passed through the thirteenth gate/Seek truth from blinded faith. Or it might be a nod to a haunted house. The distorted guitars play slow, over the slow-paced drum and bass. In the end the distorted guitars shift to almost clean mode and the emotive music echoes out into nothing.
The pace picks up with ”Oumuamua” when the guitar shifts between chugging and heavy riffs over the now faster bass and drums. Fittingly describing an obscure object appearing from outside our solar system and flying through - as stated by the vocals, ”Through the void/We pierce the sky/We’re from two suns”. They hammer in the massive riffs between the guitar solos and one might hear a nod to Mötörhead.
The last song”Cocoliztli”, an instrumental, starts with a scream. It is an instrumental reminder that what we have experienced in the last two years has happened before, and will happen again. Cocoliztli was an endemic that hit North America in the areas where the Aztecs previous ruled. The endemic hit from 1520 and reoccurred every second year and hit hardest in 1545, lasting until 1548 killing between 5 million and 15 million people. The title of the song is the word for pest in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. This last song might be a reminiscence of this and an homage to those who dies when endemics and pandemics hit. It certainly sounds like that with the melodic heavy passionate riffs, the longing solo guitars and the chugging that ends in what sounds like a tribal song played by distorted guitars over tribal drumming.
This massive release from Mosara, reminds us of the roots of heavy metal music and at the same time has a modern take on the style as they show us the musical direction classic heavy metal might be heading. It should grace every metal head´s collection with its presence.