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Mouldy atmosphere - 54%

gasmask_colostomy, June 5th, 2017

Moss chose the right name for their band. Unless the only type of moss you can think of is Kate, the spongy green plant is an apt metaphor for the very gradual growth of the group's songs, not to mention the grimy and damp conditions in which moss thrives, which seems to be a fitting analogy for the sound quality and scummy threat of the music. Moss is a natural phenomenon too in the same sense that getting an enema from the 2004 Christmas tsunami would have been natural, which is to say that the music sounds reasonably organic (and we're surely in the realms of analogue recording), yet it's also really fucking painful, though that was probably the intention of this English three-piece.

As demos go, this is certainly not of the celebrated variety, since you can't really hear magical ideas or great potential floating around beneath the surface; however, it doesn't fit into the "white noise" demo category either, showing indeed the basic outlines of the songs and including a tolerable amount of "demo atmosphere" as a result of the shaky production. In all fairness to Moss, the production is really not bad for a limited run of 100 CD-Rs nor would the band want to remove all traces of fuzz and warp from the recording, since their gnarly extreme doom benefits a great deal from being filtered through a slightly unclear medium. The band play right on the verge of doom as it bleeds over into drone, those long, expanding guitar notes really refracting all the qualities of the equipment, while also providing the idea of menace and horror lurking underneath. What disappoints rather about this is that for an hour long demo there's really just one style, with nothing introducing another play to the fuzz-by-numbers drone doom assault.

The manner in which Moss construct the material is pretty unimaginative, especially for anyone familiar with bands in the ilk of sub-Electric Wizard acolytes such as Aldebaran and Monarch, though there is also the comparison from the funeral doom side of things, since Moss aren't really a sludge or stoner band, merely very very slow doom. The guitar tends to be the most consistent factor in the mix, rolling through with great gusts of held-note chords, while the bass throbs and wobbles in the same key. Naturally, the tuning is low and the distortion often rips at the beginning of a more powerful strum, though we are in lo-fi territory and as such can merely ignore the sound if it becomes too much, made possible by the fact that Moss don't use much high-pitched feedback in their compositions. The drums play a game of hide and seek, sometimes overwhelmed by the wub of guitar noise, sometimes seeming to miss beats in the incredibly gradual progress, although we should give Chris Chantler the benefit of the doubt as he turns up with some nice fills to add a bit of variety. The vocals are largely present for the purpose of adding to the atmosphere, in which task Olly Pearson is effective despite the fact that most of his lyrics are lost in the mid-pitched yowl that haunts all the songs but one.

That one exception is a slight deviation for Moss, even if 'Crawling through Broken Children' is the only song that lasts less than 10 minutes. The same rumbling chords are present, yet here the vocals drop to a half-heard murmur and some odd effects emerge more and more as the song develops, such as a squeaking sound (as of a rusty gate) and a more overt squelching noise that might somehow represent the process of doing as the title suggests. The other songs are more or less uniform and very difficult to differentiate, barring what one might generously term a bass solo in the opening 'Whispers from Below'. It can't be called a proper bass solo because it literally is just bass playing the same riff for about three minutes between 6:10 and 9:25, during which time the other musicians presumably retired to a corner to discuss what they were going to play in the next verse, the answer to which was, "more or less the same as all the other verses". Therefore, Moss is not an especially interesting demo; however, it could work nicely for those into drone doom or anyone who thought Funeral's Tristesse was a bit too light-hearted.