CD REVIEW: Mass Chemistry - Mass Chemistry
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Alternative Rock, Hard Rock, Power Pop
Chicago based 4 piece band Mass Chemistry releases their debut self-titled CD. Band members include: Will Kelley - Vocals & Rhythm Guitar, Gino Buonamici - Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals, Brandon Becker - Bass, Aaron Becker - Drums
The CD takes flight with “Dark Days” a hard rocking intro piece that serves up steady rock rhythm, driving rhythm guitar chops & catchy vocal melody from Kelley. This intro track sets the tone for the entire CD, with it’s a melodic groove that has a hard rock edge. Track 2 “Take Your Chances” dishes out yet another impressive rock ditty with its driving rock rhythms, addictive vocal melodies & thought provoking lyrical wisdom from Ian. Track 3 “Nothing Can Keep” serves up yet another solid track with clever lyrical content, driving melodies & passionate vocal accents again from Kelley. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Daughtry, Candlebox, Live, John Mayer & even a dash of Nikelback & old school Dokken. The CD makes a pretty solid first impression. Right from the start you will notice rich musical textures overflowing everywhere, full of melody, variety, & heartfelt vocal delivery. I would classify this music as alternative rock with a hard rocking power pop aftertaste. The songs themselves are addictive, complete with thoughtful subject matter & clever vocal hooks & melodies. The musicianship of this band is pretty solid across the board. The players themselves write, & play there parts extremely well. Along the way you will notice lush layers of instrumentation. Equally as impressive is the vocal presence of Ian as he takes many vocal risks throughout the CD indicating to me a strong & confident vocal ability. All songs are short & sweet musical experiences, never too winded, never to short. From heartfelt “Me From You”, to hypnotic “Walk with You” to rocking You Know” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone” The CD Ends with Track 9 “Everything” a perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
. The biggest problem with the CD is not the band, not the music, not even the performances themselves - it’s the engineering aspect of it. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical noticing that members of MC engineered this CD. Liner notes indicated that Buonamici was in fact the Engineer & had help from Kelley with mixing & mastering? Typically this is a big fat recipe for disaster as Independent Artists attempt to take all this on by themselves – usually trying to save a buck while at the same time severely underestimating how complex the process is. As a result the overall production quality (recording, mixing, mastering) seems to be somewhat erratic, foggy, amateurish, & a bit all over the place. It takes skill and engineering savvy to record, mix, & master a musical production to industry standards these days. The impact this will have on its overall sound cannot be overstated. If this was 1982 this would be a cutting edge musical production, unfortunately its 2011, so the bar is set really high for independent artists. Given the talent factor of this band & the scope of the songs, incredible vocals & world class performances - it’s a bit unfortunate. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. It’s safe to say the catalogue is a bit repetitive sounding over time. If this CD was engineered properly (Recording, Mixing, Mastering) it would definitely be a 9 or a 10. I might add - all 3 of the production phases must be completed successfully & professionally in order for the CD to be industry standard. It’s also a good idea to have a separate professional handle each phase of the production process. This will create ample checks & balances while broadening the overall production perspective. Interleave fold out panels look extremely amateurish & there is no barcode on the back of the CD. For the record: my 7 star rating is hanging on by a thread because of many of the aforementioned issues.
Mass Chemistry’s debut CD is a compelling musical statement from start to finish. Its strength – the raw song for song intensity & solid musical performances from this 4 piece. No doubt these guys are a total riot to check out live in the back clubs of Chicago. The music is rock solid, heavy & consistent. Kudos goes out to the intensity, passion & overall vocal presence of lead singer Will Kelley who isn’t afraid to let it all hang out .If this band gets the ship righted insofar as the engineering aspect of it all – I would very much like to check out there next release for sure.