There was a time that I was current on every new band that was coming out. I had demo tapes upon demo tapes and if you were from a driving distance radius, I probably was at one of your first shows. Times have changed so I end up finding about all the hip bands once they have already “made it” to some degree. It’s rare that I’ll hear something and go “why aren’t these guys huge right now?” This is where I find myself with Pennsylvania’s Black Mask. Their new record Lost Below, which was released in February on Get This Right Records, is punishing from start to finish.

Easy comparisons would go to California juggernauts, Nails. While not exactly the same thing the bands are definitely cut from the same cloth with their conglomeration of crust, dbeat, grind, and hardcore. Both bands even take the “get in and get out” approach to song structures as the entire EP of 6 songs clocks in under 10 minutes. Feedback fills in all the blank spots of the record and adds a sense of madness to the already frenzied chaotic pace of the album. It’s not since I sat down to check out Dead In The Dirt’s most recent record, have I heard feedback used as an effective musical sound.

Even though raw and pissed off seems to be Black Mask’s theme, for Lost Below they also proved there is room for maturity in song writing. Diving back into their debut, self-titled record, I’m noticing that this time around incorporating more groove riffs is allowing them to expand their horizons and bring forth just flat out better songs. Songs like Extinction, Tormented, and Loss fire out of the cannon with that ferocious metal/hardcore mixture I talked about earlier with crunchy guitars that remind me of Pulling Teeth. However, it’s in the second half of the record that the band really comes into their own. Hollow Soul and Judgment are more riff heavy and have a nice hardcore groove to serve as the backbone. The band shows they can lay off the throttle a little bit and allow the listener to appreciate the chaos. Rounding out the EP is the massive Profound Illusion, which really could be a Nails B-side with its very doom-dominant riff that just crushes.

With bands like Nails, Trap Them, Tragedy, etc. being wildly herald bands of our time; it boggles my mind that Black Mask hasn’t caught onto that radar yet. They are doing this metal/hardcore hybrid better than the majority of their peers. With the strides the band has made in song writing in just two records, the future is bright for Black Mask. Hopefully the rest of the world takes notice.