Messa – Belfry album review

Atmospheric Italians Messa make a sacramental offering with new album

Messa, Belfry album cover

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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.

Joe Daly

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.