from Zero Magazine:
"Are you one of those music lovers that have trouble choosing what to listen to? You love the classic thrash metal greatness of Slayer, and yet you are prone to enjoying the quirky antics of Mike Patton and all of his peculiar projects, including Mr. Bungle, and Tomahawk. One such Band, Fantomas already exists, but you desire more. To answer your call is a group of four individuals, uniting to follow a dream, a dream that is too spliced and chopped to fully remember; a band out of Oakland, California, named The Mass.
Let’s call it indie-thrash (dubs crucial blast.) It’s like having an off and on seizure. Bursts of start and stop chaos. And just when you think you’ve heard it all, the saxophone kicks in, that added curve ball that sends the Athletics into extra innings to win the game. As heard on the tracks "Cloven Head", "Corpsewielder", with an epic march style, "Meditation on The Some Carcass", a slow brewing tune, "Little Climbers of Nifelheim", and "the Bringer" both slow cooking pots of stew bursting with crunchy, thrashy, post-rock flavor. This second release for the band shows even more wild tantrums then the first. Brace yourself." - Andy Smyth
from The Wire Magazine:
"The barrier between metal and jazz has been pierced again. Like Chicago's
Yakuza, the Bay Area thrash outfit The Mass augment their high-speed,
staccato riffing with fluid, almost (dare I say it) harmolodic saxophone
lines from vocalist Matt Walters. There are times when Walters launches into
screeching, post-Ayler solos, in the manner of Steve Mackay on the Stooges'
Fun House or Bruce Lamont on Yakuza's Way Of The Dead; the
just-under-90-second "Gas Pipe" is the most extreme track on the disc, from
this angle. But most of the time he does something far more interesting,
adapting the cyclical, repetitive riffs of thrash metal for the saxophone.
This is a change from the last album, City Of Dis, where the saxophone was
as prominent as the songs were crude; Walters floated atop the primitive
guitar-bass-drums crunch like Ornette Coleman fronting Napalm Death. The
moody "Meditations On The Some Carcass" is the biggest leap forward for the
band, stylistically and technically; it layers a bleak sax solo atop a
doom-metal death march, to excellent, almost psychedelic effect. For the
most part, though, Perfect Picture Of Wisdom And Boldness is an unsubtle,
skull-cracking record that owes as much to My War-era Black Flag as it does
to intricate, knuckle-popping thrash. Walters has no interest in stopping
the moshpit so listeners can admire his nimble finger technique. Fans of the
Flying Luttenbachers, Paul Flaherty, and whatever's passing for underground
punk rock these days will all find something here to inspire hours of
" - Phil Freeman
from TheMusicEdge.com Webzine:
Experimentation (and by that I mean the indiscriminate mixture of styles), is a pretty tricky thing. Make a mistake, sound fake, look fake, get the wrong influences or strike too many poses and you'll come out looking like a rifle-less Ted Nugent during an animal mutiny at Noah's Ark. The situation can only worsen if your familiarity with your instrument does not transcend, and you are not able to pull the sounds you desire. It's not all about technical skills; in fact, great music has a lot more to do with gut feeling, dedication and innate talent, more so than anything else. It is through this path, the one of the kids who love to get deep within their 'thing', the ones who possess not the prowess, nor the innate skills, but the humor and the will to find the way where there seems to be nothing left but burned bridges leading to nowhere that we find Oakland California's The Mass.
First, let's take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Take it easy. Because, what we have here in the shape of Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness; is plain and simple one brilliant mind-f**k of an album. It is so good, it deserves a Grammy for best rock album, and then it deserves a second Grammy for best Jazz album, then it deserves a Grammy for best experimental record, then it deserves a Grammy for best female pop album, then it deserves a Grammy for best vocal performance and then it deserves an Oscar because well, it is simply the best soundtrack a movie never had, and within its crazed expressionistic range is also the best movie a soundtrack never had. It is so deep within its obsession for messing with you, the only logical destination is the nuthouse. It is so extreme, yet so beautiful I don't know whether to cry blood, develop stigmata, or puke my guts out. It is so fast, yet so slow; my vision of the world has been blurred by bloodshot desire. It is so powerful; yet so fragile I could never dare to touch it with a twenty-foot crystal pole. This record is on a quest to find itself and halfway through the trip it does, only to purposely lose sight of what it is and what it strives to be. It is Vio-lence, it is Mogwai, it is Napalm Death, it is Yakuza, it is Frank Zappa, it is Dead Horse, it is beginner's John Coltrane all at the same time. The Mass is, as of now, the most important (and if not that, then for sure the most interesting) band you don't know about.
And let's reflect about what is, and about what is going to be and about what could be, as this release is only The Mass's second release. I can't contain the electrifying thrill I feel, because I know now that at least the possibility and the potential is there and sometimes that's enough. The Mass is taking chances and I will just clap non-stop for 45 minutes because I am, first and foremost, an enthusiast. The Mass is playing with us, they are staring through us darkly and where walls as tall barriers once stood, their music is tearing them down with the ease of 1 + 1. Imagine the possibilities; imagine what all this non-sense can make of our lives. Imagine how absurd can all be if we let Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness rule our lives from now on.
As The Mass nonsensically shreds through 8 atonal songs of exhaustive power, you'll be deliciously treated to equal rations of grind core, old-school trash metal (“This is Your Final Dream”), strident jazz (“The Bringer”), and ambient post-rock (“Ride of the Juns”). Isn't that what we always wanted? So it's all laid out in front of the listener, it is up to him or her to take it up, become wiser or turn around and push play on that paused Atreyu disc. The Mass is definitely onto something splendid here. And I can't wait to hear what's next.
review from CMJ Weekly:
Oakland's the Mass specialize in spiky post-Metallijazz, sprinkled with saxy skronking chopped and screwed to sludgy perfection. Inching along with what took Naked City two minutes to vomit up, the Mass's songs average about eight minutes of no-agenda sonic terror topped by singer Matt Waters's free-jazz reed work. While the production on Perfect Picture Of Wisdom And Boldness often sounds as gritty and sweaty as the band's distortion, there's urgency to the Mass's Bernard-Herrmann-in-2010 soundtracks. At times they slip into tribal jam mode, which falters for a while before really taking shape with saxophone improvisations. On the opposite end of the spectrum, "Gas Pipe" is a death-comes-ripping medley of all the Mass's punk inspirations (a little Napalm Death, a little Misfits, some Yamatsuka Eye), hindered only by the album’s garbage-can recording quality.
from Iowa State Daily:
On "Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness," California-based metal quartet The Mass deliver one of the year's most mind-warping heavy music releases. Just when you think you've got the band's heady mixture of doom metal, thrash and math rock pinned down, singer Matt Walters whips out his saxophone, shifting the musical focus from metallic fury to jazzy freakout. Although this may strike many as a combination of sounds that is destined to fail, The Mass makes this amalgamation of disparate influences seem as natural as life and death.
With "Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness," The Mass shows it is perfectly equipped to be the house band at a jazz club in hell. From the assaulting grinding of "Gas Pipe" to the smoked-out thunder-groove of "Ride of the Juns," the band's attack is schizophrenic, yet somehow, oddly cohesive. Throughout the disc, the listener is taken on a journey that feels like it could derail into musical disaster at any moment, but The Mass maintain a level of organized chaos that would leave lesser bands broken and bleeding under the strain.
In a scene clogged with legions of sound-alike bands, The Mass have delivered an album which stands head and shoulders above this year's parade of mediocre metal releases. "Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness" proves that all the Killswitch Engage and Norma Jean clones out there still have a lot to learn.