Label: Ruined Smile Records
The best punk, regardless of subgenre, all has a certain chaos to it, a sense of energy that sounds barely contained, as if the musicians involved are fighting against the urge to just go “fuck it” and hammer at their instruments in raw, animal violence. German emo band Masada possess that feeling in abundance; but what really helps set them apart is the way in which they know when to step back, to either let the song reach its conclusion or to take it in a gentler, more restrained direction, even if only for a few moments. As such, their self-titled demo tape taps in to that same feeling as the late-90s/early millennial likes of Yaphet Kotto, This Machine Kills, and Yage, and has a comparable sense of passion. It’s remarkably self-assured, and has enough personality and moments of individuality to ensure that it’s no mere rehash of what has gone before, even if it would have slotted nicely in to the Ebullition back catalogue had it been released fifteen years ago.
The shorts bursts of feedback, the DIY production, the desperate vocals and tone of the guitars; all of these aspects contribute to the bristling vitality and energy of these songs, with opener “Untitled 1” coming across like a lost cut from The Killer Was In The Government Blankets. What really makes Masada stand out, though, is the way in which they strip things back at times, such as how on “Indifference” the full-on emo is replaced with relatively clean, open chords, and confessional vocals that bring to mind Fevers And Mirrors era Bright Eyes (for the avoidance of doubt, this is intended as a compliment). They don’t wallow though, and soon the song is racing ahead once more with abandon, with intense drums underpinning evocative leads and riffs.
The songs rarely sit still, with longer tracks such as “Defeat” and closer “Discomfort” moving through multitudes of movements, full of texture and emotion – the build-up just after the half-way mark of “Defeat” that explodes, before coming down to earth with a relatively open, subdued ending is a particular highlight. The way “Schwärzester Punkt” segues in to “Quiet” is worthy of note too, as is the delightful build-up to the end of “Quiet”, the conclusion of which is a superb example of emotional catharsis through punk rock.
And that is exactly what this demo provides. Much like the bands they clearly take inspiration from, Masada have produced a demo tape that grabs you by the heart as well as your ears. It has a passion and sincerity to it that reminds you of exactly why emo can be such a powerful genre, bristling with punk rock energy and barely controlled chaos. Here’s hoping that we hear more from these guys and that they don’t join the ranks of emo bands to release one killer record before fading in to obscurity (looking at you, Navio Forge), as this demo is excellent.