Hailing from Athens, Greece, Mass Culture has been a driving force in their local underground heavy music scene since their formation in 2011. With their short, yet intense catalogue that includes an EP, a split album, and their 2018 opus “Primal | Ephemeral”, “Barren Point” marks the culmination of their musical evolution.
Today, we delve into the haunting melodies and crushing heaviness of the album, thorugh a special insight and track by track commentary below.
“Barren Point,” the second full-length album from Athenian band Mass Culture, is a captivating and introspective sonic journey. From the atmospheric and instrumental-driven opener “Point of Liminality” to the thought-provoking “Materialized,” which delves into the nature of being and consciousness, each track offers a unique and compelling exploration of its subject matter.
The album touches on a variety of themes, including the state of society, the mysteries of the mind, and the everyday struggles of survival. With influences ranging from science fiction to philosophy, Mass Culture weaves a tapestry of sound that immerses the listener in their unique musical vision.
Over the years, Mass Culture has shared the stage with renowned acts such as Russian Circles, Celeste (upcoming live), Rodeo Idiot Engine, Planet of Zeus, and 1000mods, solidifying their position as a force to be reckoned with in the heavy music realm.
Featuring seven tracks of pure heaviness, “Barren Point” showcases Mass Culture’s ability to craft mesmerizing compositions that transcend boundaries. Each track immerses the listener in a unique sonic landscape, pushing the limits of post-metal and leaving an indelible mark on the senses.
The track-by-track analysis we present here has been curated by Mike, the bassist of Mass Culture and the primary lyric writer for most of the songs.
Point of Liminality
When we wrote this song, we kind of had no idea how the lyrics would fit. It had a very instrumental/ intro feel to it, it came along having a “Valid” by Breach vibe. But we started trying to add vocals and they were fitting real nicely, so we arranged it accordingly. The lyrics are very sci-fi inspired, sort of like the aftermath of a space epic, think “The Metabarons” by Jodorowsky, which was probably my biggest influence subconsciously.
Mist & Tar
This was the first song fully written for the album. It had started just a little bit right before the pandemic hit, and we spent weeks without playing together and kind of having ideas but not being able to pitch them to each other. So at some point we realized that we had no idea how long this thing was going to take, and when we would be able to play again together (lockdown was quite strict in Greece), and we started sending guitars we had recorded on the computer, programmed drums, and somehow managed to arrange it during the pandemic. Lyrically, it centers around the idea of Death as a piper and toll taker, when even then, at the final moments, something is still expected from you.
Bones of this World
This one’s a take on the state of society as a whole, the state of the world financially, politically, environmentally and the sickening backwards strides we seem to be making each day on our sociopolitical evolution. I think it combined pretty great with the aggression of the music in this particular track.
I had this idea of writing something similar to “Fresno” by Will Haven, so I came up with the bassline at the beginning, but when the guitars were added, it sounded a lot more like Deftones (which is very much not a bad thing). Between us we still call this song Deftones… Writing the lyrics, my idea was a re-imagining of Plato’s cave, but from the perspective of one of the people who were trapped in a cave, living a lie as a thought experiment in the name of philosophy, science, whatever you want to call it, going on a frenzy after climbing out, seeing the sun, and realizing what happened.
This song is about exploring the maze of the mind, both from a neurological perspective, a psychological perspective, and a mystical perspective. The brain still remains a mystery for us and perhaps it always will and I find this to be a part of the charm to be honest.
This one’s the oldest track we have on this record. Well, the first riff of the track at least. It was written in 2018 or 19, in a song that we never ended up liking, but we actually ended up remembering and using this specific riff in a new context and arrangement. We also transposed it to use the same notes as the ending of “Margins”, so I’ve always felt that these two songs as musical siblings, and that’s why I wanted their names to also make sense combined – “Margins materialized”. Lyrically it was inspired by an idea I had at some point of the state of being vs the state of non-being, but not from a philosophical point of view, but rather from a more sterilized and inquisitive point of view. For example, what would an inanimate object experience if it came into consciousness? Would it remember something from before? Would it be a different experience of being than the one we have? I am very certain that what I’m saying makes no sense, and no, I wasn’t on drugs when I had those thoughts.
This one’s about the everyday grind that each one of us goes through in order to survive. The monotony and dullness of a job, the mutilation of any artistic and expressive endeavor that a person has inside him, the poverty and insecurity that people have to face daily. This one ends on a rather heavy note, suicide. I hate talking about the lyrical themes of this song, because it makes me sound much more troubled than I actually am. I have never contemplated suicide, and as all my lyrics it’s a story without a specific protagonist or person in mind, sort of like from a third person point of view. Still, this is an issue that should not be taken lightly and affects a great deal of people.