Review Summary: Making due on their potential and then some
Messa has established themselves as one of the more unique bands in the occult doom scene to the point that such a tag almost feels like a disservice. Their dedication to a consistently dark, cavernous atmosphere goes beyond the boundaries of groups like SubRosa and Witch Mountain while incorporating additional influences from ambient, blues, post rock, black metal, and folk. Their third full-length feels like a consolidation of their eclectic sound that also pushes it to an even broader scope.
While Close still isn’t necessarily an accessible listen in the traditional sense, the presentation feels a bit more straightforward than before. Their drone tendencies are more coherently utilized, having phased out the tracks dedicated to long-form ambiance in favor of putting it toward expanding the instrumental buildups and fleshing out the ominous mood. From there, the songs still bounce all over the place stylistically to the point that they often stand in direct opposition to each other, but they also feel more purposefully structured and self-contained.
“Suspended” does a splendid job of establishing the tone, delivering monolithic riffs and spooky vocals with a slow crawl that gets spruced up by jazzy guitar and sprinkles of keyboard. Tracks like “Orphalese” and “0 = 2” take that template even further, adding in exotic instrumentation and even more excruciating builds that amount to especially haunting sequences. On the flip side, “Dark Horse” and “Rubedo” put in more up-tempo executions while maintaining smoothly flowing dynamics and “Leffotrak” goes full on black metal, albeit for forty-five seconds.
And as expected, the musicianship maintains a high standard throughout. The guitar tone is incredibly thick, suited as well to doom riffs as to tremolo runs and spacy textures that are further supported by the flexible rhythms. The vocals are admittedly one note but ultimately serve as a consistent overseer to the madness at hand. I do find myself wishing there was more saxophone but the liberal use of different synths, mandolin, and other instruments more than makes up for it.
Overall, Messa makes due on their potential and then some with Close. The band had my interest from the get-go with their blend of unique instrumentation and committed atmosphere, but this album sees their identity fully realized thanks to its careful structuring. The worst I can really say is that a song or two may be slightly redundant toward the end, but they still maintain quality throughout. If you’re unfamiliar to the band and seek a refreshing alternative to all the witchy metal out there, consider giving this a listen.