Mastiff are part of Hull’s stoner and doom scene, a scene which has produced some stunning bands including Batallions. Mastiff play aggressive brutal music that recalls Napalm Death and Nails. But despite these influences, they put their own stamp on their new album Plague, released in February.
I used to go on family holidays to Hull. While it holds a special place in my heart, there were some areas that felt grey and miserable. Mastiff’s music reflects this, with brutal grindcore breakdowns and an unrelenting chaos that is done and dusted in half an hour.
The production is raw, but it hints at a massive sound, especially on ‘Quarantine’ which is like one long , violent breakdown which melted my face. ‘Vermin’ is even bigger, incorporating gang vocals and a sludgy riff that gets slower as the track goes on. It’s nasty, filthy and compelling, keeping the listener engrossed in the album.
When you listen to this record, the gutterals might not appeal to everyone, (it took me a few listens to get warmed up to them), but the musicality is top notch. There’s so many blast beats and drumming that’s faster than a formula one car, while it feels like a journey through serious torture. The feedback combined with the harsh atmospheric sounds on ‘Black Death’ are a highlight. It’s a slow, sludgy nine-minute long track. Like the rest of the album, it is an anxious uncomfortable listen. The slow riff sums everything up, anger at the state of the world, and how humanity is driven by hate. It feels like a trip down the River Styx, a slow decay into the throes of suffering. The track finishes on a chord which sounds like the end of the world, bringing a brutal 30-minutes to a close.
Mastiff have gigged relentlessly, and I’m sure that Plague will increase their reputation, turning heavy music on its head. They’re playing shows with Conan, Conjurer, and Armed For Apocalypse so you can be sure that they’ll get a bigger following in the metal community.
Words by Ermis Madikopoulos