Its not that often we review albums by bands/artists that have called it a day or disbanded but we have to make an exception in this case as this is an album that falls into the blow your mind to smithereens category. The band/artist in question (we cannot be certain if they are actually a band or a one man project) goes by the name of Prayer for the Massess and the only solid information we can give you is that the band/artist hails from Greece. Things are made even more mysterious by a cryptic message on the band/artists Bandcamp page which says "you can't contact Prayer for the Massess, you can't trust Prayer for the Massess" and a liner note in bold print explaining that the latest album, "...and returns", was recorded "A WHILE AGO BUT WAS NEVER RELEASED!!!" and if that wasn't confusing enough beneath this is a message in morse code signed off with the name SATVRNI. It seems pretty obvious that this is a band/artist who wishes to remain anonymous and who doesn't seem overly fussed about promotion, so why, you may ask, are we bothering to promote it, the answer to that is simple... because "...and returns" is one of the best drugged up sounding, hazy assed slices of acid doom, voodoo blues you are likely to hear this year, or maybe ANY year!
The title of opening number "Wizard of Love" evokes images of a smiling white bearded mage dressed in flowery garb, his pockets overflowing with potions and charms, but you should never judge a song by its title. What we actually have here is a doomy slow acid blues tome played at almost funereal pace that is drenched in fuzz, and distortion and boasts a vocal that you could easily believe was delivered by a member of the living dead with its throat still partially filled with the graveyard earth it was buried in.
Next song "Addicted to Madness" is driven by a slightly more industrial backbeat but is nevertheless just as cloying and dank as its predecessor, the vocalist proclaiming himself "the lord of lost, the lord of void, the king of worms, the fall of man," in monotonic tones over screaming lead guitar, economic but effective bottom end and that aforementioned industrial drumming. Following tracks "Prince of Darkness" and "Crucified" stick fairly rigidly to the format of the albums first two numbers, sedately paced and heavy on atmosphere but then along comes the upbeat instrumental "What Lurks Underneath" to show us that what actually lurks underneath is an artist/band with the chops to be the next Earthless or Karma to Burn if they ever decided to jettison the gloom and despair for something a touch more upbeat and hopeful. A touch of the previous tracks musical positivity does manage to manifest itself on following tracks "Claws of Pleasure" and "My Damnation", although any light allowed in is heavily filtered through layers of lyrical despair and despondency. Next up comes the laid back and semi-acoustic "Holy Land", the vocalist voicing his dreams of a land where "all flowers are empty" and "the crosses have shattered", the song serving as gentle respite for the oncoming storm that is "Hollow's Rise" a schizophrenic instrumental that is part doomic riff fest and part heavy psych mindfuck. Final track "Children of the Sacred" finds Prayer for the Massess pushing for the finish line in full doom mode, not quite abandoning the bluesy elements that have served them so well, up to this point, but certainly dumbing them down in favour of a more dark and dank sonic attack.
Prayer for the Massess are a band/artist whose identity is undetermined, are they a band or the brainchild of one man, and is "...and returns" really Prayer for the Massess last ever album, given that they have already told us not to trust them..., who knows. What is determined however is that either together or as a single unit Prayer for the Massess make a fantastic noise, a noise that needs to be heard regardless of who or what they may be.
Check 'em out ...