Mass Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness

No one would ever guess that this album is by the same band who recorded the jazz-metallic Juggernaut City of Dis two long years ago, as Oakland’s the Mass continue to evolve toward the extreme end of the metal spectrum. The keystone of City of Dis was the King Crimson-esque saxophone of front-man Matt Waters, which regrettably takes a backseat this time around on Perfect Picture of Wisdom And Boldness, which is more frenetic and busier than its predecessor. Waters’ vocals have become more growling and strained, as evidenced by opener "This Is Your Final Dream,” and his sax doesn’t crop up until well into the second track, the Fucking Champs-inspired "Cloven Head,” which is merely to replace the guitar solos. "Corpsewielder” mixes Rage Against the Machine bass chordage with garage punk and C Average-styled discourse, and its sax finale seems too little, too late. After the grind tornado of "Gas Pipe,” "Mediation On The Some Carcass” serves as a quiet interlude to the rest of the album — for the first five minutes, at least — with beaucoup sax soloing and guitar ambience before exploding with slow-mo hardcore and screamy vocals. "Ride of the Juns” offers mid-paced metalcore until the pause where it then proceeds at a Rollins Band-like crawl with an almost spoken-word monologue. "Little Climbers of Nifelheim” begins with Creedle-like sax and drum interplay, then goes acoustic, and finally breaks into a black metal section. Where City of Dis was so wonderfully fluid and weightless, Perfect Picture is unnaturally forced, collapsing under its own preponderance. (Crucial Blast)