Los Angeles-based rock outfit Initial Mass just dropped a new album, called Bending Light. The album was produced by Eddie Veliz, guitarist/vocalist of L.A.’s stoner metal trio Kyng.
Made up of singer-songwriter Mark Baldwin, Kevin Robertson (drums), and Scott Smith (bass), the power trio’s sound amalgamated elements of prog-rock, alt-rock and metal into dark melodic concoctions defined by unusual time signatures and intricate arrangements.
According to Scott Smith, “This new album has pushed us to grow in all areas, our sound, our musicianship, and our songwriting. It was a deliberate attempt to write shorter songs with more energy than what we’ve done before. I think it’s a reflection of where we’re headed and how we want the band to always be evolving. It still captures our essential sound, but definitely brings a new direction to our core progressive punk hybrid sound.”
In 2014, Baldwin and Robertson began laying down tracks for an untitled album as a nameless band. When the album was almost finished, Smith auditioned and Initial Mass was born. Completing the album, now entitled Time & Measure, they released it in 2016, followed by their sophomore effort, Tidal Force, a concept album, in 2018.
Encompassing nine-tracks, entry points on the album include “Killing Heroes,” a track vaguely reminiscent of Tool, full of potent guitar riffs pervaded by dense surface colors. Superb drumming from Robertson infuses the rhythm with spectacular percussive accents.
The title track rides an atypical rhythm supporting glittering metallic-flavored guitars, as Baldwin’s passionate tenor soars above. Tempo shifts imbue the tune with tasty muscular harmonic textures, sonic pauses, and rolling, grinding resonance. “Silence No More” conjures up similarities to Rush covering Tool, only brawnier and simultaneously more melodic.
“Embers Within” opens on cerebral colors and then surges to factor five levels of oomph on a flowing prog-rock melody.
Speaking subjectively, the best track on the album is “Piece By Piece” because of its roiling guitars and pushing impetus, crowned by Baldwin’s deliciously penetrating tones.
Bending Light is excellent, full of sophisticated prog-rock flavors, as well as tangible sonic muscle atop complexly layered surfaces. For a fact, this is one of the better albums I’ve reviewed so far this year.