Editor's Rating

This is heady stuff on a contemporary metal lp, and I’m not really sure if Messa are metal at all. There’s no doubt they are onto something here, something that could breakthrough into real mainstream interest with the right treatment and songs.

7.5

Italians Messa have a striking sound, a kind of doom rock, which is occasionally blissed out with with low key jazz arrangements and soaring bluesy solos. FEAST FOR WATER is a tad more accessible than their equally striking debut from 2016, Belfry. Belfry was a touch more metallic and rawer. Feast For Water sounds like a band on the cusp of making a name for themselves.

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. Messa are a pretty cool sounding tripped out band, but they’d be just another band without “Sara”. These are some of the most stunning vocals on a metal record for some time. They are a lot of very good contemporary female singers, and I mean singers, on metal records, but Sara stands out. On Belfry, the band and their brilliant vocalist were still searching for the right balance to show off the vision. Here, they are getting closer. The even more bluesy, jazzy, but still heavy enough vibe let’s Sara blend more completely with the sound, and the results are at times stunning.

“Snakeskin Drape” opens with over a minute of very low key almost Morriconian whispers and tolls, before launching into a superb galloping banger. Sara soars, massively layered and reverbed, just as it should be. It gets better from there. “Leah” will probably be the track of the year. A doomy crawl pulls back to a tender smoky jazz arrangement before Sara cuts loose on a massive chorus, something about “mama I’m abomination”, before a ripping Page-esque solo. Boy, I’m left both drained and exhilarated by this stunning number. It’s unlikely, but it’s works brilliantly, all 8:09 of it.

“The Seer” follows and it’s almost as good. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard something like this before. I’ll lay it out. Firstly a vocalist who sounds like an accomplished jazz veteran who can also let rip flighty hollers; arrangements combining simple yet subtle jazzy flavours and monster Sabbath riffs; scorching Zeppelin blues solos; an overall vibe of stoned bliss; oh, and some tribal pounding to kick off. This is heady stuff on a contemporary metal record, and I’m not really sure if Messa are metal at all. There’s no doubt they are onto something here, something that could breakthrough into real mainstream interest with the right treatment and songs.

Sadly, the band can’t quite keep up the pace set on the first 3 tracks. “She Knows” is even MORE smoky jazz club filled, AND more darkest doom sounding at the same time. Whereas track 2-4 saw the Messa vision really coalesce, it feels a little more forced here. Quite frankly there’s a lack of a song. “Tulsi” is weirder still. A funny psych-metal western jaunty plod. I did mention ion Morricone before, and I can’t prove it, it just feels like Messa have watched a lot of spaghetti westerns while listening to jazz and Sabbath. This is album track material, fine, acceptable stuff. “White Stains” continues the vibe, searching for the genius of the early stretch, but just missing. “Da Tariki Tariquat” is a 4:20 instrumental closer, again with the darker psych edge, yeah it’s ok…

Look, as much as I like what this band is trying to do and IS DOING for a lot of the time, Feast For Water is an ok record with some great tracks. I reckon they would’ve sold a shit ton of records in the mid-90s. They are improving rapidly however, so if you want to get on the bandwagon before they do Jimmy Kimmel or something, get this record.

 

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