Mass – “Still Chained”

Mass – “Still Chained” (Pride & Joy Music)

Battle Helm Rating

Oh. My. God. Mass are back!! Defying all the odds (and life expectancy as we know it) bassist Günther V. Radny has returned and reformed Mass – 33 years since their last release in 1986 and 46 years since the band was formed in 1973 – unbelievable!!! Back in the day, with an international line up and a winning hard rock / heavy metal sound, it didn’t take long before Mass were a recognised name across Europe and in Germany, ranking alongside the Scorpions, Accept and Warlock in the early 80s. Sadly though, it was not to be as the excesses of rock n roll took their toll and by the mid 80s, the band was unable to continue. In fact, aside from Radny, the original line up was not able to make the return owing to health problems – hence the recruitment of a new group! However, this presented Radny with an opportunity to bring in an organ player – something that he’d always wanted to do – and in doing so has actually created a new chapter for the band. “Still Chained” is 15 tracks made up of Mass’s best numbers re-recorded by this new line up along with 2 brand new songs. Thanks to the musicians, it works brilliantly and the new organ adds its presence magnificently, bringing back that late 70s hard rock sound as it pumps and grooves in unison to Matthias ‘Wauxl’ Pfaller’s pure rocker vocals reminding me in many places of the late, but still great Bon Scott. Listening to the material, it’s easy to see what all the fuss was about Mass, who put out 8 albums of energetic and highly catchy hard rock metal covering fast rockers, headbangers, and rock n roll anthems before their sad demise – I mean, these guys could’ve been big! Just check out the massive groove on ‘Back To The Music’ with Clemens Matejka’s pumping organ now taking it to nuclear levels (not to mention those teenage dreams!) on the singalong chorus that’s simply too irresistible to not join in especially when Hannes Heid hits home with his totally rock out solo! Then there’s ‘Kick Your Ass’ with its deep grooves cutting into your soul as the rough shout outs back Pfaller’s singing again with Matejka’s funky organ accompanying and Heid providing the slick guitar work, together making for an air punching favourite to the chorus – simple in its formula but highly effective in its effect. Bringing in the metal on ‘War Law’ are Andy Gmeinwieser’s pistoning drums, but this time to a powerfully anthemic singalong thanks to the epic melodies backed by soulful harmonies contrasted by hard shout outs of ‘…fight! fight!..’ before Heid delivers nothing short of an incredible solo straight from the heavy metal hall of fame. Ending with the raucous ‘We Are Back’ it couldn’t be any more greatly stated on this hard rocker as Pfaller’s highs are matched by Heid’s own blistering solo before the dramatic Accept like screaming chorus grabs you and shakes you by the scruff of the neck just like it did back in the day. Indeed, “Still Chained” brings back a lot of memories and hopefully this time around the band will get to show why they were such a name – as their original moniker said ‘…Mass only plays for the audience – hard rock total!’

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