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Mass - Sea Of Black

posted 25 Jul 2011, 08:10 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 08:12 ]

(Escape Music)

Mass have been going for 30 years, and although I have heard the name in the past this is my first taste of the band. The band are from Boston, Massachusetts in the US (I think the origin of the bands name may be in there! Hahaha!) and feature Louis D’Augusta on vocals, Gene D’Itria on Guitars, Michael Palumbo on Bass & Joey “Vee” Vadala on Drums. The band attained some notoriety in the 80’s and even getting some heavy MTV airplay back in the day. This is he second album from the band on the Escape Music label following their 2007 album “Crack Of Dawn” and as with that album escape favourite Martin Kronlund is back to produce this one too and as always does a Stirling job.

I’ve heard a lot of praise for this album, fantastic reviews and it seems to be going down a storm all over the place. So after my first spin of the album, I felt like someone had just told the funniest joke ever and everyone was laughing and I was the only who didn’t get the punch line. I was totally under whelmed by what I heard and given the praise of many people I respect and share similar tastes with was surprised I didn’t take to the album. I have to say the album has grown on me slightly since with repeated plays, but it’s still nothing I’d go nuts for. Technically, the vocals are strong and the musicianship is evidently top notch and I have to say I respect these guy’s talents but the songs on “Sea Of Black” fail to ignite anything in me. I’m not sure if some of the religious lyrics may have lost me a little, don’t get me wrong this is far from a Christian or preachy album, but I think the bands faith shines through in some of the songs. I think perhaps because I can’t connect to some of those style of lyrics that they lose their impact on me, where as they may resonate with others more powerfully. I have to say its on the ballads where the band show their strength and there’s a few strong one’s here, the album only really comes to life on the ballads and for me they really stand out.

Opening cut “Falling From Grace” really puts me in mind of Rush in its structure and style and the vocals too a little bit especially on the chorus. It has a strong beefy riff, but the song just has no hook for me. “The Right Side” has a strong classic rock sound with an interesting riff, but again lacks that killer punch and loses my interest quickly. The next track was the first to make a real impression on me the power ballad “All The Years Gone”. there is some really good acoustic guitar work on this tune and is definitely one of the album standouts with a strong powerful chorus and guitar riff with punch.

“Thru The Rain” has a great infectious guitar riff during the chorus but as a whole this rocker is a bit bland BUT that riff is a beastie. Ballad two is “Coming Home” which again features some great acoustic guitar and the song has a little bit of a country vibe, it has a really strong melodic chorus one of the strongest moments on the album. The classic rock rocker “All That I Need” has a chugging riff which puts me in mind of winona’s big brown beaver (who was that Prong? Answers on a postcard please!). That riff gives the song some real head nodding energy but would have benefited from a stronger chorus.

Ballad 3 is “More Than A Friend” it has memorable melodies and a strong chorus and it also contains some great heartfelt lyrics which are probably my personal favourites from this album. Rocker “Justify” has some strong beefy guitar riffs a stronger melodic chorus could have made this an album standout. “Ashes To Ashes” just didn’t grab me at all.

Ballad 4 is “Till We Meet Again” which has a cool memorable guitar part some strong vocal melodies but it is the guitar riff that makes the song for me. “Captain Jack” is a short instrumental which is quite nice and laid back and doesn’t out stay its welcome. Closing the album is balls to the wall rocker “Sea Of Black” with a huge sounding riff, yet again a stronger more instant chorus could have made the song a hit, some great guitar work throughout though.

To me overall “Sea Of Black” is a very average album although there is strong vocals from Louis D’Augusta, some fantastic guitar work from Gene D’Itria and the rest of the band are tight and impressive throughout. The songs just don’t smack me about and demand more airplay, it just feels like something is missing but all the pieces are there. This is one for fans of classic hard rock, with prog overtones ala Rush for me it’s an album that may take a few spins to grow on you before it hits you, but it’s not one for me.

Track Listing:

Falling From Grace / The Right Side / All the Years Gone / Thru The Rain / Coming Home / All That I Needed / More Than A Friend / Justify / Ashes To Ashes / Till We Meet Again / Captain Jack (Instrumental) / Sea Of Black

Album Rating:


Woody’s Essential Track:

More Than A Friend

Sea Of Black is OUT NOW and available from all good retailers and