by Torrey Proto
On “Stainer,” the first single from their upcoming sophomore LP Bend, Connecticut’s up and coming purveyors of sludgy goodness in Crag Mask deliver a compact dirge that makes good on the promise of their debut. Vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Zack Abramo’s twisted sense of songcraft and melody is on full display, complete with a slyly catchy intro that devolves into a foreboding doom riff just long enough to unsettle the unsuspecting listener. Bassist Phil Lord and drummer Jason Rule’s mastery of dynamics provide the necessary glue that holds each of the song’s several distinct sections. Repeat listens even reveal a subtle melody played on synthesizer by Zayne Couch and even a touch of slide guitar.
Crag Mask are a curiosity that don’t neatly fit into any boxes. They’re heavy on the instrumental side, yet Abramo’s vocals are rarely strained. Their songs are jagged and restless, but playful and often downright pretty at the same time. The ingredients of their palette may sound heady or overstuffed on paper, but the impressively tight four piece prove to be masters at weaving their detailed sonic explorations into surprisingly compact and cohesive gems thanks to their refined musicianship and collective ear for melody. If the endlessly creative Bend is any indication, the future looks bright for Crag Mask.