Hot Mass may be a relatively young band, but their members are certainly seasoned in their ways. Coming from backgrounds such as The Arteries, Dividers, and 33, there’s a whole lot of experience playing gruff punk going on here, and Hot Mass uses that to their full advantage on their debut album, Nervous Tensions. It may be their first foray into the studio world, but this is a band that knows exactly what kind of sound they’re after.
Across ten songs and thirty minutes, Hot Mass makes their mission statement loud, clear, and fast. This is an album full of dirty licks. It an album full of vocals that sound like someone gargled sandpaper every day for five years. It’s an album filled to the brim with sing-alongs that will enter and exit your head at equal speed (no, seriously, only three tracks break the three minute mark and one of those three just barely crosses that line). It’s an album that’s rock and roll as fuck.
If Nervous Tensions has any flaws, it’s that it plays a little too well into its garage punk conventions. Garage bands aren’t exactly a genre known for their innovation these days, and while there’s no bad individual songs that drag the album down, there is a sense of sameness throughout. If you get distracted while listening (say, for example, if someone pushes ahead of you while boarding a crowded train or if a driver runs a red light while you’re still crossing the street), it can be easy to lose track of when one song ends and the next begins.
Despite its sole shortcoming (which isn’t even really a shortcoming, it’s just a staple of the genre), Nervous Tensions is far from a bad album. At the end of the day, it’s a debut album. It’s consistent and fun, which is probably more important than showcasing diversity in the long run anyway.
3.5 / 5 – Stream or download the album below.
RIYL: Riverboat Gamblers, The Arteries, Hot Snakes