Mastiff from Kingston Upon Hull, UK
A miserable band from a miserable town. MASTIFF hails from a tiny port city called Kingston Upon Hull, founded by 12th-century monks, and bombed to the brink of obliteration during World War II. Over the years, spiraling social depravity, poor education, and crushing economic collapse pummeled the English town, rendering it dreary and inhospitable. Hull is the end of the road for many, literally and figuratively, as its geographical location ensures that it’s not quite on the way to anywhere. It’s a specific type of human-made hell in which some folks seem destined to die without ever having left. It’s also the kind of place capable of grotesque beauty where suffocated artists might thrive.
Thank heavens for Hull, then, because MASTIFF churns out delightfully depressing missives of misanthropy. Determinedly swaying between harrowing bleakness and hateful immorality, MASTIFF weaponizes their world-weariness and wit with brutal sludge and volatile, raw, hardcore grind. If a festival featuring Napalm Death, Nails, Converge, and Tragedy somehow survived a “Hull Blitz” of the nuclear variety to emerge as a post-apocalyptic, five-headed beast? Its name would be MASTIFF.
A pair of early EP outbursts summoned a furious fuzzed-out thunder, reminiscent of the sludgy bar room brawl rock favored in New Orleans, with shades of the darkness cloaking fellow English bands of the doomier variety. Wrank (2016) and the Bork EP (2017) furthered the despair and paranoia.
And then sophomore album Plague blew the damn doors down. Recorded live-in-the-studio in just two days, Plague demonstrated MASTIFF’s seamless shapeshifting from harsh noise to blackened hardcore and back again. The sludge still seeped from the foundations, like a foul stench from under the floorboards. Despite the raw recording setting, MASTIFF somehow sounded more polished and less restrained at the same time. A slew of stark raving reviews from sometimes disgust-adverse tastemakers like Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, and Metal Injection symbolized MASTIFF’s momentum.
MASTIFF put their open-wound sound and spirit on display at shows with Crowbar, Biohazard, Conjurer, Cult Leader, and Iron Monkey, among others. They’ve proved adept and capable at delivering devastating performances with a diverse cross-section of heavy acts and their respective audiences. Festival appearances propelled the band’s miserable might, deepening a nascent cult status. - Earsplit PR