Mastiff // The Sophie Lancaster Stage // BOA22 // Saturday August 12th

A miserable band from a miserable town. MASTIFF hail from a tiny port city called Kingston upon Hull, founded by 12th-century monks, and bombed to the brink of obliteration during World War II. Over the years, spiraling social depravity, poor education, and crushing economic collapse pummeled the English town, rendering it dreary and inhospitable. Hull is the end of the road for many, literally and figuratively, as its geographical location ensures that it’s not quite on the way to anywhere. It’s a specific type of human-made hell in which some folks seem destined to die without ever having left.

It’s als0 the kind of place capable of grotesque beauty where suffocated artists might thrive.

Thank heavens for Hull, then, because MASTIFF churns out delightfully depressing missives of misanthropy. Determinedly swaying between harrowing bleakness and hateful depravity, MASTIFF weaponizes their world-weariness and wit with brutal sludge and volatile, raw, hardcore grind. If a festival featuring Napalm Death, Nails, Converge, and Tragedy somehow survived a “Hull Blitz” of the nuclear variety to emerge as a post-apocalyptic, five-headed beast? Its name would be MASTIFF.

A pair of early EP outbursts summoned a furious fuzzed-out thunder, reminiscent of the sludgy bar room brawl rock favored in New Orleans, with shades of the darkness cloaking fellow English bands of the doomier variety. Wrank (2016) and the Bork EP (2017) furthered the despair and paranoia.

And then sophomore album Plague blew the damn doors down. Recorded live-in-the-studio in just two days, Plague demonstrated MASTIFF’s seamless shapeshifting from harsh noise to blackened hardcore and back again. The sludge still seeped from the foundations, like a foul stench from under the floorboards. Despite the raw recording setting, MASTIFF somehow sounded more polished and less restrained at the same time. A slew of stark raving reviews from sometimes disgust-adverse tastemakers like Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, and Metal Injection symbolized MASTIFF’s momentum.

Crafted in a generous five days at No Studio with producer Joe Clayton (Pijn, Wren, Leeched), Leave Me the Ashes of the Earth is a misanthropic masterpiece. The sorrow-filled souls of every miserable cretin it reaches will stir in basements, hovels, pubs, and darkened alleyways. Conceived during a pandemic-enforced longest stretch between MASTIFF records, Leave Me the Ashes of the Earth paints on the band’s familiar canvass, but with a bigger palette. It’s not far from the story of the seminal Napalm Death, whose journey across extreme subgenres produced a blistering catalog.

MASTIFF put their open-wound sound and spirit on display at shows with Crowbar, Biohazard, Conjurer, Cult Leader, and Iron Monkey, among others. They’ve proved adept and capable at delivering devastating performances with a diverse cross-section of heavy acts and their respective audiences. Festival appearances propelled the band’s miserable might, deepening a nascent cult status.

The unrelenting, brutish curmudgeon aura of MASTIFF can be deceptive, as bright sparks of nuance and jarring adventurousness lurk behind every riff, rumble, and anguished, painstaking bellow. A great deal of thought powers what may sound like thoughtless music, stitching together a soundtrack suitable for betrayal, depression, self-loathing, and total despair, with winking, devilish glee. The bulldozing din of MASTIFF is akin to the catharsis in setting something aflame just to watch it burn.
Rock ‘N’ Load’s Thoughts ” Brutal aggression from the of, Mastiff pushed and pulled the crowd through a majestic display of Hardcore brutality that made the sweat all worth the while”

“Shades of grind pioneers Napalm Death, aggro-tastic U.S. brutalists Nails, and the swampy, kaleidoscopic acid-trip imagery of Crowbar bleed through everywhere.” – Kerrang! (KKKK)

“The total absence of good times and cheer.” – Metal Hammer (8/10)
“An onslaught of savage music.” – Exclaim!
“Ungodly amounts of disgust.” – Metal Injection
Jim Hodge – Vocals
James Andrew Lee – Guitar
Phil Johnson – Guitar
Dan Dolby – Bass
Michael Shepherd – Drums
Leave Me the Ashes of the Earth (2021)
Plague (2019)
Bork EP (2017)
Wrank (2016)
Everything Equals Death EP (2014)
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