Mastiff - Deprecipice (Cover Artwork)


Deprecipice (2024)

MNRK Heavy

Mastiff are one of the British bands who, when almost every time I listen to them, it occurs to me that I’ve taken them for granted. Their last record Leave Me The Ashes Of The Earth, was a 30-minute journey into the abyss via Mastiff’s own extreme metal amalgam of utterly grim, bludgeoning noise but with arguably a more death metal leaning than had been seen before. Given that I’m partial to death metal in general, I liked the album a lot. But (spoiler alert) not as much as I like this one.

Not beating around the bush, the thing that hits you immediately with this record is just how heavy it is. Sonically and in terms of the ambience it generates. The low end on the production is utterly punishing, Jim Hodge’s vocals are as rabid and furious as ever (if not more so) and the HM2-adjacent guitar tones delivered by James Andrew Lee and Phil Johnson should come with a free tetanus shot. But the thing that pulls this record so squarely into my sweet spot is the more hardcore-influenced approach to songwriting in comparison to the last record. The rhythm section (Daniel Dolby on Bass and Michael Shepherd on Drums) are a real powerhouse engine that rumbles and thunders along, letting the guitars and vocals feel unhinged without ever straying too far from the path which could lead to the overall sonics feeling chaotic.

Speaking of vocals, there are also guest spots from Harry of Burner, Ethan from Primitive Man, Rob from Yersin and more besides. Another characteristic of the record that sits closer to the hardcore spectrum. That said, there are a couple of tracks, “Cut Throat” and “The Shape”, which are bordering on being interludes. Not interludes that necessarily give you respite, but ones that do provide some variety. As it happens, both tracks are unsettling in different ways. The former is a kind of industrial ambient track with heaps of sound distortion and frankly, a whole host of wilfully unpleasant noises. The latter is more akin to a creepy vaudevillian horror movie theme. Whether they’re both entirely necessary is a matter of personal preference. I could make the argument that they take some of the momentum out of the record, but they do also serve as breathers, so I can see the positives in them.

Whereas previously I would have had a harder time giving a “FFO” for Mastiff, on this record, I think they make logical bedfellows with the likes of Lifesick, Harm’s Way, Leeched and other bands from that pocket of grim, bleak, metallic hardcore. It just so happens that this is a group of bands I adore – and even better – a sound that Mastiff are demonstrably very much at home in. It’s brutal, savage, dark, unyielding, pained and brilliant. If there’s any justice, Mastiff could well put themselves on the map with this record. I sure hope so.