UK doom purveyors MOSS have remarkably been a going concern for some thirteen years, releasing a fairly steady flow of demos, EPs and splits on a frantic schedule more typical of grindcore bands, before they finally convinced Rise Above to carry their sophomore LP in 2008, and now, through the British label's relationship with America's Metal Blade, third opus, "Horrible Nights".And what a telling title it is too, since the opening title track literally, painfully, arduously grinds into gear on a growling, crawling sequence of riffs seemingly cloned from Matt Pike's guitar tone during his SLEEP days, and the seminal "Dopesmoker", in particular.
But, it's not just Mary Jane that possesses the souls of the three men behind MOSS, so much as hammer-horror subject-matter fueled by British doom's long tradition with the form, which is why vocalist Olly Pearson can be heard coughing up blood, not ganja smoke, near the conclusion of "The Bleeding Years".
When he's not busy fighting for his life, however, the singer proudly claims membership in the Ozzy Osbourne school of clean wailing, and it must be said his echoed groans of despair contrast nicely with the coarse, muckraking music flowing patiently underneath the elephantine "Dark Lady".
Patience, to be honest, is a key personality attribute required of listeners who would tempt MOSS's protracted song arrangements, along with a general aversion to abrupt surprises and the concentration to avoid falling asleep between each, delayed snare drum crash marking the band's sound as borderline funeral doom. And patience is rewarded as the album winds down via a couple of quite memorable epic doom slogs in "I Saw Them That Night" and "The Choral of Chaos", which finally explores a brief change of pace and texture-adding feedback midway through. But don't try convincing us the quiet thrumming comprising "Dreams from the Depths" is some kind of atmospheric experiment in Musique Concrete instead of the band simply forgetting to turn off their amps and recording machine during a fish and chips break. The bottom line is that anyone versed in similarly dedicated uber-doom outfits like REVEREND BIZARRE or early CATHEDRAL is bound to recognize MOSS' comparable limitations when it comes to making undead riffs sound totally alive and kicking.