Massahara – Massahara

“Massahara” is a rather new Brazilian formation which released its debut, self-titled album in 2011. Music presented on this record is a mix of heavy prog and classic hard rock with some elements of psychedelia here & there. They mostly rely on heavy guitar riffs and non-stop organ blast, so I liked it from the first listening.

CD includes 8 highly-energetic songs:

1. “Contramão” – album begins with a fast-paced rocker filled with dazzling guitars and rather backgroundish organ layers. It sounds really hard (almost “Black Sabbath” alike) and keyboards aren’t so audible here (however one good Moog solo there) but it’s OK. Portuguese vocals are also suitable (I didn’t listen to too many Portuguese language rock records but they are really good here). All in all decent beginner but the best is still to come.

2. “Lugar Ao Sol” – another stomping heavy rocker full of busy guitar riffing and supportive electric piano. Allan Ribeiro’s bass work is also very remarkable, it’s not common to hear so loud bass lines these days… I also love when near the end Ronaldo Rodrigues switches to Hammond organ to play some Ken Hensley-inspired solo.

3. “Cabeça Boa” – rather good song but Fabio Gracia’s vocals are slightly annoying here, too much forced screaming I’d say. However instrumental solos & bridges are good as ever. It’s good that from this point keyboards becomes louder so I can enjoy the record more. Especially extended fragment of raw organ soloing is great. Definitely “Cabeça Boa” was inspired by classic “Atomic Rooster” work from 70s.

4. “Já Nem Ligo Mais” – the longest track (but I wouldn’t call it an epic tough) of this disk is an amazing organ-drenched piece of sheer heavy metal a la “Deep Purple”. Especially middle part with Hammond/guitar interludes reminds me of similar staff by Lord/Blackmore “partnership”. But the most suprising is a very long bass solo! Allan Ribeiro is a man!

“Já Nem Ligo Mais” without doubt is my favorite song on “Massahara”.

5. “Mandacarú” – very energetic song which sounds like early material of German band “Birth Control”. However middle part is a bit darker & almost sinister. Mellotron (samples, as Rodrigues informed me) waves (violin & flute sections) add special dimension to the music too. BTW one riff presented in this song is very similar to Atomic Rooster’s “Throw Your Life Away”, not sure whether it was intentional or not…

6. “Zóio d’ Cobra” – …but main theme from Yes “Heart of the Sunrise” was definitely used here intentionally. However they proceeded it so creativly that I really like this “rip-off” :-) . Anyway Ronaldo rules in this track, his Hammond chops cut the air like a knife!

7. “Tudo o Que Eu Quero” – heavy as tank song with down-to-earth guitar riffs and screamin’ vocals. However beautiful mellotron eruptions slightly soften the atmosphere. In general a bit too noisy for me but not very offensive by any means.

8. “Massahara” – title track starts off with some cosmic sounds of guitar & Moog synthesizer along with hypnotic electric piano bits. Very psychedelic, almost “Pink Floyd” like. Later on it’s most conventional but it’s still satisfying instrumental track. Compared with other material on this disk, it’s much more Minimoog driven.
Good piece to end a good album.

To sum up: Massahara’s first album is a real treat for all fans of 70s sounding heavy prog in the vain of Uriah Heep, Atomic Rooster, Birth Control, Frumpy or Argentinian classic Ave Rock. I suppose it can be also an interesting staff for classic hard rock lovers (Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Nazareth, Judas Priest etc.).
It’s a pity that there are not too many such kid of bands anymore and if they exist they’re usually very obscure and have no chance to really shine. Hopefully “Massahara” has a better future!

Best tracks: “Já Nem Ligo Mais” & “Zóio d’ Cobra”

P.S. I’d like to add that if you like such retro-sounding material recorded by newer bands, I can recommend you to check such bands as: Wicked Minds, Black Bonzo, Storm at Sunrise, Electric Swan, Cosmic Nomads, BigElf and Standarte. All of them will please your ears with organ/Moog/mellotron/piano-drenched music.

Tracklist:

1.    Contramão  (5:58)
2 .   Lugar Ao Sol (5:14)
3.    Cabeça Boa (6:20)
4.    Já Nem Ligo Mais  (8:45)
5.    Mandacarú (6:31)
6.    Zóio d’ Cobra (5:08)
7.    Tudo o Que Eu Quero (5:30)
8.    Massahara  (6:59)

Line-up:

* Fabio Gracia / guitar, lead vocals

* Allan Ribeiro / bass, backing vocals

* Renato Amorim / drums

* Ronaldo Rodrigues / Hammond organ, Minimoog, electric piano, mellotron (samples)

Links:

www.myspace.com/massahara

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