Black Mass – Feast at the Forbidden Tree Review

Is it just me, or is Redefining Darkness Records on somewhat of a tear lately? We’ve covered thirteen of the label’s releases since late 2018, and all thirteen have received a score of 3.0 or better. I’ve handled three of those reviews in 2021, and I’ve found them to be good, very good, and fucking awesome. So when the promo for Redefining Darkness act Black Mass came along with its epically sinuous artwork, I threw my head back, cursed the sky, and feasted upon its forbidden fruit. My passionate promo selection was also influenced by the fact that Black Mass play thrash metal, a genre that has been extremely kind to my ears this year. Let’s see if these Bostonians can add to that bountiful thrash harvest with their third full-length album, Feast at the Forbidden Tree.

Now just what kind of thrash are we talking about here? Black Mass has the potential to please a pretty broad swathe of thrash fans, mixing the raucous early thrash of Kill ’em All and Show No Mercy with a bit of punk-infused, NWoBHM-tinged crossover à la their fellow Bay Staters in High Command. And when you listen to first proper track “Unholy Libations,” you’ll hear some of the blackened speed metal that has made Bewitcher a household name — at least in my house. Embedded single “A Path Beyond” begins with a Venomously speedy gallop that is soon joined by Brendan O’Hare’s violent, slightly blackened shouts. The bass guitar noodles away in the background, and the track contains a couple of awesome solos — one emotive and beautiful, the other absolutely molten — securing its status as a legitimate banger.

There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, Feast at the Forbidden Tree finds Black Mass driving full speed ahead. “Dead to the World” sounds like early Celtic Frost and Motörhead drunkenly fighting over the world’s last bullet belt, and it’s immediately followed by “A.S.H.E.S.,” a track that channels vintage Slayer extremely well. The most unique offering arrives in the form of the mostly mid-paced “They Speak in Tongues.” Its grooving riffs are accompanied by some clean(ish) singing that is a bit shocking at first when compared to the rest of the album. It eventually won me over, and it ends up being a nice cool-down track before the epic one-two punch of “Betrayal” and “Blood Ritual” closes things out. The former is a fifty-fifty mix of thrash and speed metals that ends with some beautiful classical acoustic guitar, and the latter dials the Slayer knob straight to 11, even incorporating a prolonged fadeout reminiscent of “Raining Blood.” That fadeout could probably stand to be trimmed a bit, but it’s not a serious issue.

There really isn’t much to critique here, aside from the way the record starts. The three-minute “Intro” begins with eerie synth/organ passages and then moves into furious thrash about halfway through. There’s nothing wrong with the track itself. In fact, it’s a really cool little number that effectively demonstrates the band’s skill and penchant for atmosphere, but it serves little purpose for the album as a whole, due to the fact that “Unholy Libations” follows with its own drawn-out intro. On repeat listens, I began to skip “Intro” and found “Unholy Libations” to be the perfect opener. Aside from that, Black Mass seem to have really nailed this whole thrash sound. The analog production sounds like it could have come from the early-to-mid 80s, and it’s just glorious. “Intro” is the only skippable track here, but “Unholy Libations,” “A.S.H.E.S.,” “A Path Beyond,” “They Speak in Tongues,” and ” Blood Ritual” absolutely slay.

With Feast at the Forbidden Tree, Black Mass have successfully raided the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Music. The record just oozes with genuine early thrash swagger and should please fans of any of the bands referenced above.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Redefining Darkness Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 10th, 2021

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