FUSING PROGRESSIVE ROCK VIBES WITH
EDGIER SENSIBILITIES, L.A. POWER TRIO INITIAL MASS
EXPLORES THE INTENSE ENERGIES OF ‘BENDING
LIGHT’ ON THEIR LATEST FULL LENGTH,
PRODUCED BY EDDIE VELIZ FROM
STONER METAL BAND KYNG
Singer/songwriter Mark Baldwin and drummer Kevin Robertson have been pals since their junior high days, so when they launched their power trio in 2015 with bassist Scott Smith – another longtime friend – the built-in chemistry was explosive from the get go.
L.A. being the competitive jungle it is, though, it takes a hell of a lot more than fantastic camaraderie and scorching energy to stand out. It’s a good thing they’ve got a high-octane hybrid vibe that’s heavy, dark and melodic,” with songs boasting odd time signatures, complex arrangements and hard hitting rock sensibilities. Initial Mass are also intensely old school when it comes to recording, insisting on dropping emotionally expansive full-length albums. Their latest, Bending Light, was produced by Eddie Veliz, vocalist and guitarist for L.A. based stoner metal trio Kyng.
As fans who’ve seen their shows at hotspots like The Viper Room, Molly Malone’s, The Satellite and Silverlake Lounge will tell you, they’re dedicated to the art of songwriting, with the goal of creating memorable, standalone songs that are part of a greater cohesive whole. After launching with their debut album Time & Measure in 2016, the trio followed up with an epic concept album, Tidal Force, where an intense array of metaphors and a compelling fantasy narrative were created as a reflection of some of the personal emotional upheaval Baldwin was going through at the time. The hour-long opus consists of ten hard hitting songs building a central narrative that explores the struggles and victories of the common man.
Veliz was such a fan of Tidal Force that he immediately stepped forward to produce Bending Light. Initial Mass was toying with the idea of creating another concept-oriented project, possibly a sequel. But Veliz inspired them to shift their focus to what Scott calls “an album of great tunes.” Mark says, “We always wanted to make every album sound different, and we knew it would be a great opportunity to work with Eddie. So we followed his lead to make it a tighter work with more energy and shorter songs that stand alone. We’re also excited that Scott wrote lyrics to four of them!”
Getting the collection off to a hard charging start is “Killing Heroes,” a hard-edged dig at the frustrations of corporate life (a world Mark and Scott know all too well) and the backstabbing that takes place in those environments. Mark says, “Good people are trying to be honest and do the right thing, and the jerks try to make people look bad for their own gain.” The title track “Bending Light” is a brooding, meditative and ultimately explosive reflection, inspired by Stephen Hawking, on the expanding universe and the way time is always moving away from us. Other highlights include “Reason to Take,” a catchy, high energy jam about people making their own choices in life even as others tell them what to do; and “Piece By Piece,” which tackles the poisonous aspects of relationships that occur even when two people care about each other.
“This new album has pushed us to grow in all areas, our sound, our musicianship, and our songwriting,” Scott says. “It was a deliberate attempt to write shorter songs with more energy than what we’ve done before. I think it’s a reflection of where we’re headed and how we want the band to always be evolving. It still captures our essential sound, but definitely brings a new direction to our core hybrid sound.”