Initial Mass’ crushing new album Bending Light was tailor-made for fans of blue collar, frills-free heavy rock. Whilst embracing certain elements of virtuosity, this LP still tends to stay away from the excesses of metal much like it does the raw, guttural aesthetics of punk. To put it simply, Bending Light is a purist’s dream; from the moment we get started in “Killing Heroes,” we’re riding a juggernaut rollercoaster that dips us into violent groove tracks like “Reason to Take,” speed demon “Resolution” and the progressive “Alchemy” before finally coming to a conclusion in the aptly-titled power ballad “Embers Within.” There’s never a dull moment in this tracklist.
The lead vocal that we hear in “Embers Within,” “Years Past,” the chest-beating “Silence No More” and multilayered title track is superbly anthemic, always emotive. There are moments where it’s a little reminiscent of Dax Riggs and Layne Staley in particular, but not once in my listening sessions with Bending Light did I feel like I was hearing something derivative or lacking in original spirit. There’s too much heart and unfiltered passion in tracks like “Piece by Piece,” “Alchemy” and “Killing Heroes” for me to think anything differently; this singer complements the textured guitar parts brilliantly, and together they form heavyweight harmonies.
I wasn’t aware of Initial Mass’ work before coming across this LP , but, they’ve made a heck of a fan out of me with Bending Light. There aren’t many bands actively touring today with the kind of moxie – not to mention melodic vocal stylings – that this group possesses, and if they’re able to crossover from underground fame into the spotlight of the mainstream stage, I think that the transition will be wholly good for American rock music in general.