It’s not every day that you get to witness the public birth of a project a mere eight years after its foundation was laid and cemented in place by its creator. Granted, there have been at least a handful of live appearances from Massdirge in that time (including one unfortunate incident back in 2005 at New Hampshire’s Bomb Shelter venue involving a cowboy sound guy), but there is little information available to suggest that there has been even a sparse demo offering prior to this album outside of a release that is vaguely implied as having existed on the band’s last.fm entry between the years of 2007 and 2008. Through its existence, Massdirge has been solely the alias of one David Doktor whom has appeared to have given his entire artistic attention to this project since its inception, and while the name of the band has remained the same, his potential self-release label has transformed over the years from Deep Freeze Industries to its current incarnation in True Grey Media. This change of a seemingly tedious piece of a project’s identity paired with the vast amount of time that it took for this album to manifest into a physical form seems to hint at a profound attention to detail and a need for perfection.
It doesn’t take long to delve deep into the world of Doktor and get a firm grasp on what it is that he’s attempting to create. The music of Massdirge is an interesting combination of the cold, bleak world of death industrial as it’s crushed under the weight of sullen harsh doom a la the depth and trudging speed of Sunn O))) meets the raw emotional edge of Khanate. This alone, in all of its minimalist glory, creates an impressively dark atmosphere that is modestly oppressive in mood. Unfortunately the need to reach for synth is too much for some musicians and it managed to creep in to the opening composition for a few moments. Thankfully it is a short-lived experiment in the middle of the performance, minimizing the effects of a momentary bad decision and allowing the track to get back to a serious tone. The second track features a similar moment when a vast empty space is created and filled with the distant echoes of choir synth, but this actually works, somehow strangely echoing back to the work of Until Death Overtakes me when synth-laden funeral doom had reached its pinnacle.
That said, the overall approach of Massdirge is a far cry from the orchestral-dirge style of UDOM, instead having much more in common with its noisy post-industrial brethren. The subtle choirs that appear in track two help bring the band name full-circle, however, combining both the religious atmosphere of liturgy and the grieving nature of the dirge into one brutally structured and strangely ethereal entity. As with many new bands coming out and finding it difficult to find a fully original path, Massdirge is walking a thin line between genres that share a similar despondent and violent nature — and doing it well. If there’s a legit complaint to be found, it would be that I’d like to see more of a concrete vision behind the project instead of an artless, untitled theme that doesn’t give any depth to the music within. The emotion is there, but without words or imagery, its evolution is almost immediately stagnated. That said, in a strange parallel, this is where the unique combination of elements starts to drift apart. That emotional stagnation disrupts the experience in response to the doom side of the music, but in a way it helps reflect the cold inhuman nature of industrial.