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Messa – Belfry album review

Atmospheric Italians Messa make a sacramental offering with new album

Metal’s scariest moments are rarely direct references to death, violence or the eternal fires of Hell, but rather the spectral limbo that hangs uneasily between notes, where echoes and silence are the most important paints on the canvas.

Italy’s Messa arrive with this idea well in hand and their debut is a mesmerising melange of ambient textures, bludgeoning crunches of stoner metal and fuzzy passages of creepy occult rock that conjure blurry vignettes of ancient pagan rituals and cursed sacraments never intended for the eyes of men.

Opener Alba, Tomba and the stunningly fragile Bell Tower drift amorphously as gauzey drone pieces and sprawling head trips between the pounding, bong-ripping magnificence of stoner rock beatdowns like the blistering Hour Of The Wolf. Blood seamlessly blends these styles with a spooky experimentalism vaguely reminiscent of of early 70s Amon Düül, weaving in a jazzy clarinet passage that underscores the album’s hypnotic strangeness. Although Messa’s debut is far from accessible, its sumptuous, mindbending rewards more than justify the patience it first requires.