Morass of Molasses - "The Ties That Bind"
I had the pleasure of seeing Morass of Molasses live a number of years ago in Cardiff and now I get the pleasure of reviewing their latest record. “The Ties That Bind” was Produced by Ian Sadler (OHHMS, Faymne) and released by Wasted State Records in June 2019.
Band: Morass of Molasses
Location: Reading, U.K.
Bones Huse – Vocals/Baritone
Phil Williams – Lead Guitar
Raj Puni – Drums/Percussion/Vocals
(Additional credits: Sian Greenaway – Backing Vocals, Matt Ainsworth – Flute)
Record: “The Ties That Bind”
Review: “The Ties That Bind” opens up with “The Darkening” - a 1:12 instrumental, building anticipation until we are then pummelled with a barrage of hard rock/stoner rock riffage in the form of “Woe Betitde”. Reminiscent of hard-rock-goliaths such as Mastodon, Baroness, Black Sabbath, etc. for a track just shy of 4 minutes, it sure does manage to pack a lot into it, while avoiding any feeling of claustrophobia. The interchanging sections allow the track to breathe and really paints a picture of how the record will play out. Starting off with its high-octane riff, the track brings the volume down before building back up with a solid tom beat and a melodic lead guitar part. We’re re-introduced to the main riff, followed up with a sick guitar solo which plays out the song to its conclusion and into track 3.
“Death of All”, has without a doubt, one the best riffs I’ve heard in ages. It’s simple but so effective. You can’t help but nod your head and punch the air. The vocals, accompanied by a cool drum beat, take centre stage as the guitars willingly back down for brief periods within the verse. Sparingly, the guitars thunder back in to provide some extra flavour which really add to the dynamics and song writing. From this, the song mellows for a brief moment to allow you to catch your breath and get ready for round two. This cycles back around into the verse and then again mellowing down before things really start to pick up.
We’re then treated to a sick bridge where the track really wins me over even more than it already has up to now. I’m a sucker for odd time signatures and wonky riffs, and this didn’t disappoint me at all. It reminded me very much of Tool mixed with Mastodon, before the song plays out with another verse and a hellacious final scream. “Death of All” is without a doubt not only my favourite track from “The Ties That Bind”, but easily one of my favourite tracks I’ve heard in a while. It’s like some weird hybrid between stoner, hard rock, hardcore and psychedelia. Imagine, Elder meets Mastodon meets Whores. I fucking loved it.
Now we are given the chance to come down and relax as “Estranger” treats us a blues/70’s hard rock-esque vibe. Great groove on this track. A really nice change of pace, demonstrating the song writing talent and a great use of dynamics possessed by Morass of Molasses. The track treats the listener with some very well executed vocal harmonies. The chorus, out of nowhere, pummels you with intensity and god-like power.
This leads nicely into “Legend of the Five Suns”. Another example of how a great band should put together an album. Definitely the softest-sounding track on the album, it adds yet another layer while still maintaining and encapsulating the vibe of the record.
“As Leaves Fall” is another instrumental track used to bridge back into its following track. The track is only 1:33 long, but I could have easily listened to more of this, although that would arguably defeat the purpose of the track. It’s not intended to be a mellow jam. It serves more of a purpose to the record. It’s beautifully arranged, and as mentioned, bridges nicely into the next track.
The heaviness picks up again with “Persona Non Grata”. More sick riffs, more killer drum beats, more awesomeness. These guys really know how to write a riff, while correctly executing and not overuse it. The use of the tom beat and vocals driving the verses while guitars are used to add texture, really helps emphasising how powerful the main riff is once it re-enters the track. Just shy of the 4:00 minute mark, “Persona Non Grata” teases a psychedelic jam before kicking back in with the heaviness. From 4:30 mark, this track is taken to the next level. The drums play off different variations of the main riff with some badass fills, and the track continues to build and build to the point where we’re teased with an ending at 5:30. Instead, we’re treated to some more instrumental, leading into “In Our Sacred Skin”, which starts in similar fashion to how “Persona Non Grata” finishes. It’s little details like this which really makes this album a complete unit. Every track feels connected and part of the bigger picture.
“In Our Sacred Skin” does the best job of all the tracks in taking elements from the whole record and incorporating it into the one track. It takes the elements of Mastodon/Baroness style riffs, mixed with 70’s psychedelia. The song somehow manages to become even more sinister than prior tracks. If you found for whatever reason you don’t have time to listen to the whole album, this one track will give you the best idea of what the album is about. Once again, Morass of Molasses do a great job of transitioning into the next track.
The final track, “The Deepest Roots”, is another mellow track. Again, beautifully arranged and performed. The beginning sounds like it could have been written and brought forward in time from the early 90’s. It's dark but also up-lifting. The track then descends and begins to create a sense of anxiousness but also satisfaction as it reaches its finality. A very well executed conclusion to a great album, which also ties in nicely to the opening track. The whole record is an experience which comes full-circle, and you have no hesitation to let it play on repeat.
Verdict: A mammoth release from Morass of Molasses. For any fan of heavy music, “The Ties That Bind” is an absolute must for your ear-holes. For myself, this record has everything I could ask for. Killer hooks, gnarly riffs, tasty grooves, along some gorgeous instrumentals. There’s always something happening on this record which continues to grab my attention and keep me invested in each track from start to finish.
Morass of Molasses does exceptionally well at using their influences to create a sound which is truly their own and sets them apart from many other heavy bands. “The Ties That Bind” doesn’t feel like a bunch of songs thrown together just for the sake of releasing an album - but instead, it tells a story and it feels like a complete package. Each song compliments the other and flows nicely into the following track. This record is simply a gut-punching, artist statement and an exhilarating sonic experience which will be welcomed by all.
FFO: Mastodon, Elder, Black Sabbath