Hideous Rot - MASADA

Not to be confused with John Zorn's in-and-out jazz and folk tribe nor the short-lived thrash crew from the late eighties, this death metal unit from Philadelphia was founded in 2008 by guitarist Chris Milewski. Contained amongst his ranks is former IMMOLATION, RELLIK and GOREAPHOBIA skin crusher, Craig Smilowski, who fields drums on two tracks of MASADA's "Hideous Rot" EP. Also brought on board for the same deuce on the EP is RELLIK bassist Matt Dwyer.

While still obviously in a developing phase, MASADA employs a few moments of ingenuity outside of their choppy and clunky delivery. Cazz "The Black Lourde of Crucifixion" Grant handles the band's ralphs and even drums on two tracks, "Hideous Cerebral Pulp" and "Exist to Rot". Interestingly, those songs bear a better sound capture than the murky production on the Smilowki-Dwyer-aided "Suffer Mental Decay" and "Toxic Unreality".

Sure, the expanded personnel on the latter two tracks opens up MASADA's songwriting, in particular the grinding final bars of "Suffer Mental Decay" and then with Dwyer's reverberating bass chops taking the forefront of "Toxic Unreality". However, it's a shame these tracks are smothered by Dwyer's lines and Cazz Grant's putrid growls. Also looped with an encompassing narrative soundbyte on "Toxic Unreality", you have to work a bit to hone in on Smilowski and Milewski.

"Hideous Cerebral Pulp", handled exclusively by Milewski and Grant, is, oddly enough, the best track of the EP. Despite the limited performing numbers here, the mix is crisper and tighter. We can hear Chris Milewski homogenously layering his guitars and vibrating bass licks with Cazz Grant's drumming evenly sewn in. Grant's growls may be tempered somewhat in the mix of this cut, but it's almost staggering how more professional "Hideous Cerebral Pulp" rings than "Suffer Mental Decay" and "Toxic Unreality".

In-between "Hideous Rot"'s five tracks is a superb (if downright bizarre) flute and reed percussion interjection, "Fluxeotherapy", delivered by BLACK WIDOW UK's Clive Jones. Spiked by a disturbed lace of sex moans and shivers, "Fluxeotherapy" comes off like JETHRO TULL for S&M fetishists. Afterwards, "Exist to Rot" rumbles forward with a pretty sharp slowdown sequence in which Chris Milewski weaves a VOIVOD-inspired guitar nocturne.

"Hideous Rot" could have been better had the Dwyer and Smilowski tracks been given the same care in transfer. Otherwise, there's some pretty cool stuff to chew on here with minimal investment time. MASADA may or may not become a write-off side project, but it's to their benefit to utilize a uniform production value if there's any objective of continuance.

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