Molassess – Through the Hollow Review

In 2006, siblings Selim and Farida Lemouchi started a psychedelic occult rock band called The Devil’s Blood. In 2013, it collapsed. During its existence, the band drew a loyal following in underground music. Its music balanced retro occult and innovative psych rock. Selim, guitar player and spiritual heart of the band, was uncompromising in his vision, resulting in shows that were as much Satanic rituals as they were concerts, including buckets of pig blood and candles all over the place. In 2014, after struggling with depression for much of his existence, Selim requested permission to die from his mother and sister shortly before taking his own life. 5 years later, Roadburn overlord Walter Hoeijmakers asked the former members of The Devil’s Blood whether they would be interested in creating a commissioned piece of music. Molassess was born.

And I was there for that first performance at Roadburn, though at the time I was unaware of the story behind the band or its previous incarnation. Nonetheless, I highly enjoyed the show, and with good reason. Molassess have a sound difficult to compare to anything else. It’s psychedelic rock at its core, that much is clear. The compositions feel organic, the guitars and bass loose and jangly as if the strings barely remain attached to the instruments. It sounds organic, too, owing to the fantastic production job, with its warm and vital master and balanced mix. The bass has a playful punch and the drums are the definition of unhurried; you won’t find a double bass kick here, and the pacing rarely creeps above leisurely, with only “Death Is” and “Get Out From Under” pushing the tempo, at which point an almost jazzy quality overtakes the drums, a not unwelcome bit of variation that keeps the music feeling lively.

At the center of it all, Farida Lemouchi pours her heart into the vocals, and the emotion cuts like a knife. Her wavery mid-range, wide vibrato and huskily aged timbre will not be everyone’s cup of tea; certainly, from a technical standpoint, she is often too unsteady and cannot sustain her notes accurately for long. From a performative perspective, however, she is a force to be reckoned with. Though the music is far from light despite its relaxed nature, Farida turns it into a pitch black soundscape. The jangling riffs, courtesy of Death Alley frontman Oeds Beydals, come to life like skeletons under her necromancing spells. There’s a haunting despair underlying such tracks as the evocatively titled “I Am No Longer” or long-winded closer “The Devil Lives,” of which the latter feels the most like a direct tribute to Selim. But the strongest track on Through the Hollow is “Get Out From Under.” Farida is evocative like a maddened oracle, particularly in the serrated chorus; the drums rise and crash; and the main riff, which is held through much of the song, is instantly memorable and wonderfully dark.

Jam bands commonly fall prey to over-playing and under-editing, and that flaw Molassess cannot dodge entirely either. It arises from the translation of live shows to recorded albums, and whereas extended musical experiments can be hypnotizing to watch unfold on stage (to which I can attest), it rarely holds up on repeat listens. The listlessly repetitive “Corpse of Mind” and the aimless instrumental “Tunnel” both add very little to the album, and should have been cut, along with a few stanzas off each of the 3 longest tracks. The album as a whole contains about 45 to 50 minutes of excellence in a 65 minute coat, and it makes it hard for the closer to recapture the attention after “Tunnel” has tired you out.

Don’t let that put you off Through the Hollow entirely, though. In this day and age, albums this saturated with captivating atmosphere performed with a sound this recognizable are very few and far between. The combination of dark psychedelic jam rock with occult vibes and Farida’s histrionic vocal performance sounds like nothing else, sans its predecessor formation, and even though the entirety does run long and drags in places, there’s more than enough to enjoy here. The loss of Selim speaks clearly throughout the album, and even disregarding the lyrics, its theme of death pervades every second. That is music made with love and passion, and I think Farida’s brother would be proud of what she and the rest of Molassess have produced here.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 16th, 2020

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