Sludgecore leviathans Mastiff released their critically acclaimed new album, Plague, on February 1st via APF Records so, we had a chat to the band to find out what kind of filth inspired their sludge-drenched sound. First off though, if you want a taster of Mastiff, here’s their latest video for “Vermin”:
1. The Acacia Strain – “Gravebloom”
Jim Hodge (Vocals) – I could have easily picked any Acacia Strain album, but their newest just happened to be the one I was listening to most when we were making Plague. Vincent Bennett is one of the best lyricists and vocalists in metal, and his disgusting gutturals are the benchmark I’m always aiming for. We were lucky enough to play at Tech Fest last year and I got to watch them from the side of the stage and fangirl all over them, thankfully they were the loveliest dudes so that made me love them even more.
2. Joy Division – “Closer”
Phil Johnson (Guitar) – Mastiff don’t really have anything in common with Joy Division in terms of the music we make, but they were a band most of us discovered quite early in our lives that set a precedent for dark, foreboding and morose music that has cast a long shadow over everything we do. You can practically taste the desperation in the air on this record, and it’s that atmosphere we were shooting for on Plague. Also, we’d be lying if we said the iconic album cover wasn’t a direct inspiration for Plague’s cover art.
3. Armed For Apocalypse – “Defeat”
Mike Shepherd (Drums) – Armed For Apocalypse are just a thunderously heavy band and mix fast hardcore with super aggressive sludge so well. All of their releases are stomach-churningly great, but Defeat was their first and the first thing I ever heard from them, so that gets the nod for helping nudge us into maybe heavier territory than we might have treaded otherwise. We’re lucky now to be able to call the A4A guys friends, and have played a bunch of shows with them over their last two UK tours, with more planned in the year ahead.
4. Sunn 0))) – “Black One”
Dan Dolby (Bass) – A bastard offspring of drone, black metal and dark ambient, this is a cold and uncomfortable listening experience like no other. That feeling of dread comes from the intense rumbling guitars, bowed cymbals and dark synth pads, and was something that massively inspired not just the gravelly bass tone on Plague, but also the interludes between some of the tracks on the album, which I tried to make as harrowing and unsettling as possible.
5. Cult Leader – “Lightless Walk”
James Lee (Guitar) – I loved Gaza back in the day,6 and was gutted when they broke up after all that nasty business with their old singer, so when Cult Leader emerged a few years later I was over the moon. Somehow they took the basic template that Gaza worked from and pushed it even further in every direction, and I really tried to channel some of that flailing aggression when we were writing Plague. The song “Torture”, in particular, was written when I was listening to Lightless Walk a lot, and definitely inspired that song’s “slow riff over blastbeats” intro.
6. Crosses – “Crosses”
Curveball Choice – We all love the Deftones and follow pretty much all of their side-projects with great interest, and this entry could have easily belonged to Team Sleep or Psalms, but there’s something just a little more special about Crosses. The atmosphere is just a little darker than Team Sleep, but this band still keeps that glitchy electronic component, they just use it in a different way – rather than the trip-hop feel, it’s closer to some of the more ambient and melodic Nine Inch Nails stuff, and that’s just fine by us.
You can pick up your copy of the Plague album from: here.