Mask Of Judas's track-by-track guide to new album The Mesmerist

Mask Of Judas
Mask Of Judas - The Mesmerist

Mask Of Judas - The Mermerist

1. Mesmerist
2. Human
3. The Conspirator
4. Alive
5. Sycophant
6. Gravity
7. Brand New Conquest
8. Empire
9. Siren
10. Narcissus

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The Mesmerist’s ongoing theme is modern day society," says Mask Of Judas singer Jo Challen, of the band's debut album. "It’s a reflection of a reality in which our own free-thinking, beliefs and tastes are largely modelled and modified by a cohort of mesmerists, be they elusive, or starkly visible popular figures. It aims to provoke us to question our blind beliefs and everything we think and feel without questioning.”

The Mesmerist is also a beast of an album, with a ferocious sound that runs the gamut from original eighties shred to the most modern of progressive metal. And it never ceases to surprise: you'll hear growls-aplenty, but Challen can also hold her own against any number of R&B belters, and founder Sam Bell's influences veer wildly, from the Mahavishnu Orchestra to Protest The Hero and George Michael.

Below, Bell gives us his track-by-track guide to the album.   


"Human is a dark and technical tune featuring some odd timings and de-tuned 8 strings. A lot of the riffs are angular and Jo's vocal melodies are dark yet powerful. The song goes through some heavy grooves before relaxing into a clean section before the powerful outro. The original of this song was on my YouTube channel as a play through called Icicle." 

The Conspirator

"The single from the album that we used in our music video. A friend of ours after hearing the song said 'it’s like hearing Mary J Blige collaborate with Protest the Hero.’ This fast-paced song features technical yet highly melodic riffs, almost funk inspired grooves and bebop-inspired twists and turns in the lines and some of the solo. This used to be on my YT channel as a tune called Beach Song, I have taught some of the lines from this song on my Lick Library DVD Seven String Secrets


"Alive was the last song I wrote for the album. It features a bouncy groove, interesting harmony, and some incredible vocal performance from Jo. I am really proud of the chorus section to this song and the outro in particular. Playing it live always makes me feel transcendental."


"This tune was written by Reece shortly after he joined the band. The intro and groove of this song is Reece’s nod to an old MoJ song called Should You Leave with Nothing. However, Reece puts his own dark spin on it with melodic chord sequences, dark riffs and a great guitar solo." 


"I wrote this song years ago as a tribute to some of my guitar heroes from the early 90s in the Shrapnel Records Shred scene. There were a few guys – Derek Taylor, Brett and Scott Stine – who played 7 string guitars and did these amazing pentatonic runs with tapping that I'd only had heard before in a pop context sequenced in some Michael Jackson tunes. 

"Brett and Scott Stine had a song called Psychos from Texas. I guess this is my modern version of that tune, except with more of a pop structure and loads of amazing vocal layers from Jo. The middle section was deeply inspired by Harder Better Faster by Daft Punk. The demo play through of this tune helped boost my YouTube back in 2013. It now has over 115,000 views."

Brand New Conquest

"This tune was originally called Explorers, it features a heavy world music influence. Some of the melodic lines within the riffs are probably inspired somewhat by the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Ravi Shankar. This song kinda reminds me of the original Jumanji movie, its exotic, it has twists and turns, great harmony, and it really takes the listener on a journey. It also features one of Jo’s highest notes on the album and a cool guitar solo of course.  Also, there is a head nod to George Michael in this song in terms of the harmony in one of the sections. But I’ll let you decide where that is!"


"Empire is another dark heavy tune, but it came from inspiration that wasn’t heavy at all. Lots of old Sega video games used non-functional harmony in their chord sequences, sometimes stacking chords of a similar type next to each other which sometimes can create a jarring movement that creates tension and excitement. I did that with this song. I also put some really nice chords in the chorus with a great groove.  It was originally called Ganymede, which is one of Jupiter’s largest moons."


"Siren is perhaps one of my personal favourites from this album (as I write this) it’s incredibly melodic, heavy and technical at the same time. The song is based around a very angular chord sequence which you can hear in variations through this tune, it’s a nod to my Fusion hero Allan Holdsworth. This song was originally called ‘Harbour’ which is probably the worst of my working title song names, thank god Jo came in and gave the songs proper lyrics and titles!"


"This track was written by Reece. He had a tune on his YouTube called UnNamed New Song which had reached 190,000 views. He kindly gave it to the band. To me it sounds like thrash guitar but on 8-string with a dark modern edge to it. The riffs on this tune are grinding!"

The Mesmerist is available to pre-order from iTunes now.  

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.