Messa
Feast for Water


4.5
superb

Review

by J.C. van Beekum USER (20 Reviews)
October 20th, 2019 | 14 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 'After the call comes the diving deep – Waters aim through sonic measure.'

Back in 2016 progressive doom-metal group Messa released their debut album Belfry: a unique take on the doom-metal style, featuring beautifully soaring, entrancing singing from vocalist Sara, fuzzy, bluesy guitars, a droning atmosphere and jazzy instrumentation with the addition of a saxophone on several tracks, all combined with some classic occult doom-metal elements ala Bellwitch or Pentagram. Now we have here their follow-up to that intriguing debut, Feast for Water, in which Messa expands upon their densely melancholic sound in spectacular fashion. For it is with this sophomore effort that Messa has gone full dark-ambience, vastly bettered their song-writing abilities and dialled up both the poignancy and atmosphere to 100. A sound the band themselves defines as ‘Scarlet Doom’.

This album’s sound and atmosphere are both intensely engrossing and poignantly sorrowful. It creates this strange, spine-tingling sensation, of being immersed in an endless sea of dolorous sounds as you slowly peregrinate through the album’s soundscapes. The colour-palate of this musical ocean appears chromatically homogenous, but in reality contains a far more varied display of pigments, some representing a deep mournfulness or despair, some a sense of relief or profound catharsis. Nevertheless, the atmosphere on Feast… is perpetually doused in this deep darkness which remains ever-present throughout the album. The song structures perfectly serve to amplify these emotional elements. Similar to the debut, the songs are extensive and meander constantly. Yet compositionally speaking, this album feels more dynamic and immediate: lumbering, almost traipsing builds will suddenly transition into flurrying, bluesy solos or soaring, sometimes awfully dissonant crescendos (see tracks 3 & 4). This makes the emotional vacillations on this record all the more apparent. As an ocean, the songs on Feast… ebb and flow continually, from the serene interludes to the immensely powerful vocals to the earthshattering apotheoses; tempos permutate, moods and atmospheres alter and emotional undertones shift continually.

Speaking of vocals, they are indisputably one of the most important and powerful aspects of Messa’s music. Vocalist Sara is a highly talented singer and she delivers some truly astonishing performances on this record. She has this unique, angelic, soaring voice which can both sing you into a deep slumber or make you completely inconsolable. Her amazing range and tone perfectly capture the mood this album is attempting to encapsulate and always seem remarkably apposite in their accompaniment of the musical stadium a song might find itself in. Whether she is releasing these incredibly heartrending bawls during the crescendo moment on ‘She Knows’, providing these lovely soothing vocal melodies on ‘White Stains’ or discharging powerful chants during the trudging rhythm on ‘Tulsi’, I’m always listening in awe as her vocalizations pull at my heartstrings with startling efficacy. Still, these are just a few highlight among many and my descriptions could never do Sara’s performances on this record justice; her vocals must be experienced first-hand for their prowess and emotional impact to be understood fully.

Additionally, the instrumentation on this record is certainly worthy of praise. Both the guitar tone and guitar playing on this album are excellent. The riffs are can be slow, fuzzy and forcefully heavy or pleasantly melodic, appropriately complementing the album’s mood and atmosphere. Their tone can also be remarkably bluesy throughout the record, especially during the various striking solos on this album. What they do best however, is capture the emotional frame of mind of the album as their strings judiciously quiver along while the record seamlessly drifts through its many musical avenues. They can sound canorously tranquil or massively hammering, depending on the emotional attitude required, perfectly complementing both the temperament of Sara’s vocals and album’s compositional changes. The fuzzy, distorted base and the pummelling drums easily keep up and happily play along with this musical adventure. As with their last record, Messa also do not shy away from adding a little instrumental variation here and there. Both the opening interlude track and the ending track feature some lovely string work and the final tracks also contain some rather outstanding and eminently fitting saxophone work. Furthermore, a rhodes piano is used sporadically yet effectively throughout the record, further adding to the lush and diverse instrumentation already present.

The production is very befitting of the record as a whole. It isn’t so overly polished, as to completely detract from the album’s soulfulness. Instead, it’s dense, raw and remarkably spacey, giving the record this amazing feeling of gargantuan vastness. The instruments sound aptly raw and unvarnished, the drums pounding and hollow, the vocals clear and overarching, yet they do not completely drown out the instrumentation. This allows Messa to craft the immense sound that produces the all-encompassing, oceanic atmosphere which makes this album so superb. The music becomes analogous to this massive pelagic black hole, which sucks you in and doesn’t abstain from enveloping you until the final sounds on this record slowly subside. I’ve listened to this album countless times and the experience is always equally rewarding and emotionally enjoyable. Moreover, Feast… never seems to become stale or repetitive, due to its dynamic compositional structures and remarkable instrumental variety.

On top of all of this, the record is anything but conceptually uninteresting, as it is a concept record which adequately manages to tie together its overall musical feel and conceptual themes. To quote the band themselves: “Feast for Water is a concept album centered on the introspective, symbolic and ritual features of the liquid element.” See, all of the aquatic terminology in this review was not just used for purely aesthetic aims. And, as far as I’m concerned, this album fairly accurately expresses these conceptual aspirations. Much like the contents of an ocean, the music found on this album can be both quietly serene or vociferously chaotic, slowly drifting or flowing quickly, bottomless and vacuous or solid and concentrated. The lyrics themselves are fairly abstract yet do have a profoundly poetic quality to them. Take for example the opening lyrics to ‘She Knows’, which showcase this rather suitably:

She Knows
How to crack up your ego
How profound
Can be the tremble
She knows
The perfume, the depth of your heart
Your laments and all your odes

The eloquence with which the lyrics on this record have been construed is not fully encapsulated by the quote above however: a quick glance at the rest of the lyrical content of this album will reveal a profuse amount of well-written libretto.

Ultimately, Messa have created an absolutely superb concept album with fabulously textured, cohesive and dynamic compositions, fantastically diverse and intricate instrumentation, an absolutely engulfing atmosphere and a prodigiously rousing poignancy. Messa, I tip my hat to thee with unquestioning reverence and wish you the best of luck on your musical journey. I, for one, cannot wait to see what you’ll bring us next!



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user ratings (60)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
MementoMori
October 20th 2019


910 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

- As always any constructive feedback is appreciated

- Buy/stream this album: https://messa666.bandcamp.com/album/feast-for-water

- Also, if this review feels very long or gushing, that is a totally sensible inference. I really love this album and I had a few things to say about it.



Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2019


16250 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think I remember this album from last year. It was solid, albeit I'm having trouble finding anything other than passing engagement.

Digging: Krallice - Crystalline Exhaustion

MementoMori
October 21st 2019


910 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh well, I came back to this recently and I was blown away once again. It just really appeals to me on a conceptual, musical and emotional level.

HarryBoBerry
October 21st 2019


620 Comments


This deserved a review, such a wonderful album, well done!

MementoMori
October 21st 2019


910 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@HarryBoBerry Thanks - It's a wonderful record indeed!

Azog
October 21st 2019


688 Comments


Also, it's beautiful.

MementoMori
October 21st 2019


910 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Azog Oh yeah, most definitely, especially vocally speaking, although the instrumentation too has its aesthetic qualities.

Sabrutin
October 23rd 2019


8196 Comments


Cool to see this reviewed! Definitely more interesting than the debut in my opinion and the dark jazz touches are well implemented. My favorites here are Leah and She Knows.

MementoMori
October 23rd 2019


910 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Sabrutin

I second your comment. The two tracks you named are definitely the album's highlights along with possibly Tulsi.

Sabrutin
October 25th 2019


8196 Comments


The seamless connection between She Knows and Tulsi is another highlight for sure, agreed. It seems they'll stop touring soon, maybe they'll start to think about new material.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
November 19th 2021


26865 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

New song/video is out. Sounds really good.

Digging: Tomb of Annihilation - End of Time

Sabrutin
November 19th 2021


8196 Comments


Interesting, it's like they switched from dark jazz to middle eastern vibes. Albums drops on March 12th

Ashtiel
January 13th 2022


1296 Comments


The new one leaked a bit ago through the classic "we meant to release the single and instead the full album was out briefly" Bandcamp screwup. if you check it out and like what you hear, support where you can: https://messaproject.bandcamp.com/album/close

Aluktodolo
January 15th 2022


214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The new singles are exceptional.



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