MESSA “Close”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Something special is going on with this Italian act. I could feel it in almost every note on “Close”. There is a kind of music being produced here that has the potential to go beyond just metal circles. I compare it somewhat to hearing the first GHOST record, although musically MESSA and GHOST have little in common.

This is a female fronted act that has some doom and metal characteristics, but also influences from world music, Goth and prog. All of it is so smoothly blended together that it’s hard to separate the varying all mixes like ingredients in an exotic stew. And acting like the hook that pulls you in are the beautiful, ethereal vocals of singer Sara. Her voice is gorgeous...languid, crystal clear, bell-like and not forced at all. A lot of times, singers of Gothic metal bands have a tendency to sound too operatic or “precious”, but Sara’s tones are literally a perfect match for MESSA’s dreamy heavy rock. I could not imagine anybody doing it better.

The term “doom rock” I would ordinarily consider a joke in poor taste, but it really does fit a a lot of what’s going on here. Yes, there are metallic riffs, but I think rock is a better description, because there’s more than just the usual SABBATH riffs going on. The songs are moderately lengthy and have the feel of being a journey. The tone is crystal clear everywhere on the record...gooey or nasty sludge would not have fitted MESSA well.

I won’t go into super detail on the songs but will give you an idea of the range. “Suspended” starts dreamily and languidly like a cat stretching, giving plenty of space for Sara’s vocals. Then thick and doomy riffs cut in, creating a hypnotic sound. You can hear a Middle Eastern influence on just about every song and authentic instruments are used. “Orphalese” is the most “Arabic” sounding tune and really not that heavy, yet it is mesmerizing. When a metalhead like me can enjoy softer tunes like this, you know the songwriting is sharp. “Pilgrim” is one of the tentpoles of the album, a great mix of doom, Goth and Middle Eastern music. A standout track. A real surprise is the raging death metal of “Leffotrak”, which includes raucous screams. It last only 45 seconds and I was begging for more.

“Serving Him” ends the album with another extended piece of dreamy doom rock. Great solos are a trademark on every song and there’s a wide variety of tones and effects used, which keeps things from being monotonous. I confess, some of “Close” bordered on being too laidback, but always there was a shift in melody and direction that brought me back around.

This band has an extremely cool and professional sound. Fans of bands as diverse as LACUNA COIL, ORPHANED LAND, BLACK SABBATH and FLEETWOOD MAC...and beyond...should be aware of MESSA immediately.