Share CONTOURED HEAT - Mass Shivers (Licking River Records)
Contoured Heat by Mass Shivers is an album that has the initial veneer of sheer driving force, yet it becomes quickly evident that their impact wears off before finally puttering out in the last third. The best parts of its sweaty, pulsating sonics are swapped for trudging monotony.
Pairing the cloudy haze of psychedelia with the smash and bash of garage rock, singer/guitarist Brett Sova’s chimed vocal sits on top of it all, recalling Rush’s Geddy Lee. Yet, the act is more concerned with the exaggeration of what these genres are perceived as than the actual know-how of what could make them even more successful in the style.
Yet, Contoured Heat’s production is surely its best asset - it simply sounds dope. On More Bumper Than A Body Shop, the guitar hums deep while Sova’s voice highly intones along in the mix mostly unintelligible, but its rhythmic articulation creates melody. The song is sharp, direct, and sequently structured, even if its stab quickly heals, going barren from your mind when it’s over. Yet, while it is being heard it’s an assured if nondescript rocker.
From there the album delves into their more psych-tendencies, and it is here that it seems to take a step down in quality. "Contoured Heat" has an unhealthy vice of sucking out one’s anticipation and excitement. It’s not that their structures don’t go anywhere - they do - but they also never develop a groove, often seeming both static and unmemorable.
Mass Shivers also throws in four instrumentals on the album out of 10 songs. Problem is, due! to these tracks lacking the harmonious benefit of Sova’s voice, they sink the album more than they float it. It is apparent from these moments that the album may be about creating an atmosphere, but it fails due to its stoicism, coming off like noisy noodling more than anything else.
"Languid Liquid" is one tune that shows Mass Shivers at their best; it's this more languid style that fills up the rest of the album. "Languid Liquid" may mumble a bit, but its arty slant still speaks the right language of rock 'n’ roll. After that, aside from the turbulent, if too brief and fragmented album version of their 7” single, "Torrid Sex In East Berlin", the rest of this record feels held down by too much timidity. - Nick Schwab
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