Being surprised by an album is a pleasure like few others, and the sextet of Massface manages to do this with surprising ease on this sophomore effort, Inequable. The album starts with a premonition of progressive/hardcore, predominantly in the styling of the vocals, and one might be tempted to pigeonhole it as some kind of overproduced fanned fret silliness. But as it continues, the variances first start to emerge, then continue to… and continue to… eardrums opening and jaw dropping in tandem.
“Dunes” launches out of the gates with gory vocals reminiscent of early Randy Blythe, just as quickly flipping into M. Shadows-like operatic lines, whereas “Wither” features some of the cleanest and most shamelessly melodic lines. “Bewildered” has the most downplayed verse of the album, poppy and doomy with a jazzy swing, with heavy Greg Puciato vibes in the falsetto and soprano moments that give an incredibly refreshing profundity. But it’s “Bystander” that’s inarguably the mic drop of the album; almost djent-like in its heaviness, it adds an unexpected depth of aggression to the procession of songs one keeps falsely assuming to either have figured out or reached their zenith.
Yet there are some refreshing oddities that keep Inequable from being just another forgettable, if immaculately produced piece of modern prog. “One” shimmers with a syncopated flair reminiscent of King Crimson’s “Three of a Perfect Pair,” albeit with an extra string and a little extra distortion on the bass, but nonetheless has all of the same kind of groove “Evocative” offers an acoustic respite to the album, moments of “A Warm Place” with a bit of added “Bron-Y-Aur” jazzy flair, with the closer “Pete Bancini” as its sonic companion in its pared down instrumentality. Ultimately, Inequable is a dynamo of an album for anyone who appreciates intricate and raw music, and will no doubt lure new listeners into its drop-tuned and prog-soaked depths.