BLACK MASS - FEAST AT THE FORBIDDEN TREE
DIG OUT YOUR OLD BULLET BELT AND HOPE IT STILL FITS
If you haven’t heard of Black Mass, and to be fair not everybody has, this might take you by surprise. Black Mass play a form of hyper-active early proto-thrash so authentic this record could be a bootlegged cassette from the Bay Area in 1986. This is the aural equivalent of cut-off denims, cheap toxic beer and metal logos daubed all over school books. But while the DIY rawness and bratty defiant attitude are a time warp trip to a sweaty underground dive when thrash was nascently crawling out of a poisoned chemical sewer, you would be wrong to assume this is By Invitation Only for nostalgists.
While Black Mass’ whirlwind thrash is essentially first generation stuff – their cacophony throes in influences from early, tinny Metallica and Exodus, Haunting the Chapel-era Slayer, some Motorhead attitude and even some blackened traces of the likes of Celtic Frost – there is more to this, and the gaudy album art, might suggest. Put simply Black Mass shred and this is more 1986 than 1986.
Once you get past the wince-inducing toy keyboard intro, there are eights tracks of gold-plated sincere thrash, all noisy, all fast and oozing with spit and uproarious energy. Unholy Libations is a rampaging thrash triumph, while A.S.H.E.S. sounds like teenage Sepultura covering Kreator – or something like that – and A Path Beyond is careering rush to the head of Venom.
Black Mass have so many killer riffs they would trip over them, all played at fret-abusing warp speed and solos that are close to melting. Brendan O’Hare’s vocals are a vintage, course bark with the occasional Dani Filth-esque burning witch screech like on Dead to the World. Some of this is unashamedly silly - They Speak in Tongues is a case in point, though with thrash that is almost a congenital certainty. Anyway, go to the closing track Blood Ritual and you will see what Slayer could have won latterly.
Feast at the Forbidden Tree is a winner. If Black Mass had actually been a band during the era they worship, this would probably be a genre classic in turn inspiring other Black Masses now. For unadulterated, unreconstructed thrash this is what you need.
Feast at the Forbidden Tree was released in September 2021 via Redefining Darkness Records