In a mammoth wall of distorted destruction, Initial Mass welcome us into the dark decadence that is their all-new album, Bending Light, and its opening salvo, the guttural groover “Killing Heroes.” Over and over again, the riffs pummel us with their wallop whilst a velvet-soft lead vocal paints us a picture with all of its stoic emotion at the forefront of the mix. This is all a primer for the title track’s effervescent introduction, which quickly evolves into a grungy power ballad that will leave anyone with a taste for hard-edged progressive music on the edge of their seats and waiting for more.
A mathy overdriven breakdown gives way to an ascending rock rhythm in “Reason to Take,” and it’s at this point that Initial Mass really start to turn up the heat with their amplified adrenaline. They flirt with sludge metal aesthetics in the rollicking “Piece by Piece,” but by the time “Resolution” comes into focus, the punk rock attitude in their sound takes center stage for a rapid-fire eruption of the heaviest harmonies heard on this side of the Mississippi in a long time. The group is wearing their Seattle influences on their sleeves throughout the whole of this record, but there’s never an instance where it feels like we’re listening to anything but a purely original slab of modern rock.
“Silence No More” is probably the most conceptual track in Bending Light, but it doesn’t overshadow the more conventional “Alchemy” at all. To be quite honest, it’s hard to imagine listening to this record on shuffle; these songs yield so much delicious tension in the arrangement that Initial Mass created for us here that to absorb their content any other way would feel like total sacrilege. The intense thrust of “Alchemy” is what makes the cathartic release of “Years Past” the unparalleled longhand climax that it ultimately is, and if I had missed out on t segue between the two, I don’t know that I would have enjoyed Bending Light as much as I did.
“Embers Within” brings Initial Mass’ third studio album to a poignant conclusion, and while it’s one of the more monolithic songs you’ll hear on the LP, it’s definitely the finishing touch that it needed to feel like a smash for this awesome, and highly underrated, group of hard rockers. Bending Light is an evolved sound for this band, and though they’ve still got some room to grow into their experimental sound even more than they already have, this is definitely their most profound release thus far.