Review Summary: One of the forgotten supergroups. Crazy as hell but an interesting listen and a good find for rare music collectors.
In 1998, after the demise of ragga-punk outfit Dub War, the eccentric Welsh singer Clive "Benji" Webbe hooked up with then Suicidal Tendencies bassist Robert Trujillo for a short lived side project called "Mass Mental", with a rotating lineup accompanying them mostly featuring second bassist Armand Sabal-Leco and Bad Religion's Brooks Wackerman (and according to Skindred's Mikeydemus, one of the final recordings of Lynn Strait but I have no idea where on the record), to create a truly bizarre record.
Actual guitars rarely feature in this album, if at all, with the bassists making adequate cover for the loss. Some parts of opener "Bounce" use distortion to fill in perfectly - who needs guitars when you have Rob Trujillo and Armand Sabal-Leco anyway? The album contains a large mix of different styles and really helps Benji's crazy side shine through with energetic and eclectic performances all round, and guest vocal performances from the likes of Danny Carbonel ("Bounce") and Whit Crane ("Kill Ya") complement it well.
One of the highlights of the album is track 2, "Go Mexican Go", also the most widely circulated Mass Mental? track. The funky rhythm of the twin bass assault combines with Wackerman's excellent drumming and Benji's ragga vibe in what is actually probably one of the tamer tracks, especially compared to follow up "Frog Stomp", which I feel has some traces of Beastie Boys in it, and "Speedmental" (which comes after a quick instrumental break in "Circus") which is by far the most insane song on the album - I have no idea who is responsible for the rapping though sadly. The pace of the album is never going to let you take a breath for too long or leave you knowing what's going to come next and this further's its appeal, though the second half of the album doesn't quite match up to the eccentricity of the first half, highlights including Mazzmental and Kill Ya are still present to see out this short lived project. Lifeline, with the emphasis on Benji's vocal and the additional percussion of Stephen Perkins and Joey Klparda is probably more reminiscent of what Benji would later build on with ragga-metallers Skindred.
It's a shame this was only released officially in Japan, making it extremely difficult to obtain, but with the launch of Mass Mental's Facebook page, supposed plans to release the "Santa Barbara Mixes" and an aborted show in Germany earlier in 2012, it's worth keeping an eye out for.