Mass & Volume was originally released in 2013 as a “limited edition” EP, only available as a Bandcamp digital download. All of the proceeds from that initial offering went to the family of the late Pat Egan, a member of the Relapse family who had passed away. Then as it does now, Mass & Volume featured two songs – the nearly twenty-minute title track and the six-minute “Red Tar,” both written and recorded on a leftover studio day at the end of the Phantom Limb sessions in 2007.
So now, a year and a half after the first time, Mass & Volume is getting a physical release, and if it’s for any specific reason or for the same reason as before, I don’t know. Aside from the delivery medium, there’s no difference in this version and the prior one. In either instance, Mass & Volume is sludge-ish, doom-tempo-ed and droning, rife with feedback and tortured screams.
And in either instance, it’s not particularly engaging. It ends up as it began: an experiment, and a throwaway, some loose jams by a creative band with some time to kill. The title track meanders through nineteen minutes of feedback and aimless un-riffs, attempting to evoke an atmosphere of misery and heaviness that never quite coalesces. “Red Tar” fares better, an approximation of nihilism with a few moments of quality riffing and trudging that, like its predecessor, goes on too long (though certainly not as egregiously). Boxes are checked – downtuned riffs, crawling tempo, agonized screams – but nothing catches the same spark as the tar-black sludge masters like Eyehategod or Buzzov-en.
Scott Hull and Pig Destroyer are professionals, a band of consistent quality, and their hyperactive death/grind has long been among the best of the style. But this isn’t that, in more ways than one. Not as interesting as the Natasha EP that came after Terrifyer, Mass & Volume is the kind of release designed to show another side of a band in their prime. Really what it does is prove true the old adage: Stick with what you’re good at.