Receiving the Evcharist is our weekly feature where we pair choice albums with our favorite libations. Drink from the cup of heresy. This week’s offering: MASS’ Miserere Mei and Stucksbury Brewing Company’s Ping Pong.
The Metal: MASS’ Miserere Mei
Remember when everyone was trying to say that if the music wasn’t about worshipping Satan, it couldn’t be black metal? Yeah I remember ’92 too (I was a toddler, but I’ve seen Until the Light Takes Us so…). I’ve never bought into that; black metal, to me, is about exploring any and all kinds of darkness. Be it spiritual worship of darkness, mental anguish, or what have you. Enter MASS, a duo split between Scotland and Germany whose music might not be reminiscent of what purists would call ‘black metal’ but delivers exactly what I want from the genre. Miserere Mei excels at bringing a truly modern feel to the black metal sound. The cover art evokes something akin to an architectural blueprint gone awry, lines on top of the ghost of lines in a futile quest for perfection while the music is just as claustrophobic and plagued with anxious terror. Over the course of the album’s near fifty-minute run time, MASS wind their way through black metal, doomy passages, harsh noise, and industrial drone, focusing in on the most tortured aspects of each genre while still yielding at times to somber melody as on the twenty-one minute closing track “The Sun Was Torn From the Heavens, and Day Turned Into Night.” Listening to the abrasive production and industrial elements, I cannot help but bring to the front of my mind the constant pressures of the capitalist society we live in, and I think this is intentional on MASS’ part. This is not black metal of the ‘old spirit,’ whatever that means; Miserere Mei is black metal for a new age, exploring a new kind of darkness, and it does it well.
The Booze: Stucksbury Brewing Company’s Ping Pong
We’re mixing it up again this week and bringing another round of hard cider on deck, although there are reasons for choosing this drink that won’t shock regular readers of this column. Ping Pong is a dry-hopped apple cider brewed by Vermont brewery Stucksbury in collaboration with none other than California’s very own Modern Times Brewery. Stucksbury’s cider formula provides the base of the recipe, while Modern Times adds a healthy dose of West Coast hops into the mix. The end result is crisp and dry with notes of citrus from the Citra and Amarillo hops bringing out the natural sweetness and tartness of peak-season Vermont apples. The balance between the “cider” side and the “beer” side is perfect here; when I take a sip I don’t find myself wanting more of one or the other. Much like a good split album, the individual halves here combine into one harmonious whole.
Cheers, and be good to each other,