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(Album Review) BLACK MASS - Feast At The Forbidden Tree

Release date: September 10, 2021 (Redefining Darkness Records)

Written by Jeff Tighe

Feast at the Forbidden Tree is the third full-length album from Boston's Black Mass (not to be confused with nine other bands using the same name, according to Encyclopaedia Metallum). This is a 9 song, 41 minute thrash album that veers into various lanes of extreme metal, but does so with complete conviction.

Starting off, appropriately with "Intro", this had this fan of old-school extreme metal thinking of the "The Exorcist" intro to Possessed's classic Seven Churches release. It is followed up by "Unholy Libations" in which guitarist Brendan O'hare's vocals are reminiscent of the late, great Paul Baloff from Exodus. O'hare's vocals are versatile to say the least, as his efforts bring to mind Stace "Sheepdog" Mclaren of Razor on "Dead to the World", complete with howling shrieks. Sometimes there are even hints of a younger Cronos of Venom finding their way into the mix. The man's vocals are certainly a strength on this recording even though he uses a mundane death metal affectation on the otherwise excellent "Nothing is Sacred".

Generally, speed is the name of the game here, and bassist Cristian Azevedo and drummer Alex Fewell have no problems supplying a back-beat that should satisfy any speed freak. There are some mid-paced songs, such as "A.S.H.E.S." and "They Speak in Tongues", but the lack of speed does not allow boredom to creep into the proceedings. Sometimes the production is a bit muddy or hollow, like the vocals or guitar solos are being recorded while the band members are in another room. But generally it does not detract too much from the end result.

Highlights are numerous, but "A Path Beyond" and "Betrayal" are two standout tracks among many standout tracks. All thrash fans will find lots of reason to get whiplash from this kick-ass effort. (8)

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