Morality-Crisis-MASHI really hope that you, dear readers, are as alarmed as me that we are deep into February 2016. What’s that? It’s March? Bloody hell. Well that explains why it’s still light during the drive home from work already. My perennial quest Sophia sluggishness means I’m nowhere near keeping up with the 2016 release schedule – I’ve only really listened to the records I’ve reviewed, much to my shame – and am still wading through what 2015 had to offer. Morality CrisisMASH EP, which dropped in December and missed out on any publicity amidst the fanfare of lists, lists and more lists, is a 2015 gem that AMG recently brought to my attention. Though really it’s way too late for a TYMHM feature (March?!), AMG is hardly known for being a slave to the temporal whims of Gregory XIII and his infernal calendar, so he happily sanctioned this tardy review.

And it’s a good thing for all you fans of “hard-riffing shitrock” that he did, otherwise you might have missed out on one of the finest examples this, let’s say niche, genre has to offer. It’s a weirdly apt self-description of their music, but only makes sense once you’ve listened to it. Mixing elements of sludgy hardcore, gnarled Corrosion of Conformity grooves, and a Mastodon-sized experimental streak, MASH is a bludgeoning ball of grizzly fun that’s bursting with ideas. Morality Crisis are canny songwriters, imbuing each track with its own distinctive flavour despite them being stylistically very similar. Whether they have settled into a slow groove or are hammering along at high speed, the neat rhythmic variations, unsettling dissonance and inventive guitar and bass work ensure each track remains totally engaging throughout.

The exception to this is the twenty-two minute long title track, which drags a little at the start – perhaps the idea was to focus the listener’s attention on the entertaining lyrics. Fortunately, once the initial four minute dirge is over, Morality Crisis really kick into overdrive, experimenting with innovative harmonies, tasteful guitar effects, and even incorporating some Krallicey black metal influence in the middle of the track. I’m not entirely convinced that the best way to structure all these ideas was as a single song, but they do an admirable job and it makes a fantastic centrepiece to the record.

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As you would expect from a band that has been going for over ten years (I was surprised to find this out; my music radar is clearly being jammed), the performances are excellent – rhythmically tight but still with an organic feel that many records lack. Engineer Adam Tucker has done a good job of making the bass and guitars sound filthy and thick while retaining some clarity, and the drums are very punchy with great kick and snare tone. Though the dynamic range is somewhat disappointing, the overall sound is nowhere near as offensive as most other records with similar DR scores.

So there you have it: the final (I presume?) TYMHM for 2015, an unexpected but super fun EP that’s well worth grabbing as a pay-what-you-like download from Bandcamp, and that has delayed my foray into 2016’s releases still further by providing me with yet another back-catalogue to explore. Damn you Morality Crisis!

Tracks to check: “MASH,” “Cowboy Song”