Review: Morass Of Molasses ‘End All We Know’

With releases from the likes of Dozer, Acid King, Yawning Man and fellow Ripple Music label mates Wolfnaut, 2023 looks to be a rich year for the stoner rock scene and nothing encapsulates that richness quite like Reading, UK’s own swamp master generals Morass Of Molasses, who have served up their forth helping of delicious and thick blues heavy grooves in the form of their latest album End All We Know.

Morass Of Molasses 'End All We Know'
Morass Of Molasses ‘End All We Know’ Artwork

Named after the 1919 molasses tank explosion in Boston, in which the blasts subsequent flood claimed 21 lives and injured 150 people, the band have built steadily on a wave of critically lauded performances at the likes of Bloodstock and HRH Stoner Vs Doom festivals. And increasingly, their albums have received plaudits in larger publications such as Kerrang! who proclaimed they contained ‘Enough bowel quaking low-end to fill another Sabbath album’.

Their latest release sees them expand their songwriting approach by adding a greater range of experimentation to their sound without ever straying too far from the bedrock of the hard-hitting sludgy psychedelia on which they have built their reputation.

This experimentation was largely born out of the situation they, like others, found themselves in during the pandemic and instead of jamming tunes, they were forced to communicate remotely which gave them the bravery to step out of their comfort zone and bring fresh ideas to the table.

The first impression of End All We Know is that the material hasn’t suffered in the slightest for having not been worked out on the road. Over the course of the eight tracks, Morass Of Molasses sound fresh and invigorated with the progression they previously hinted at making them ones to watch.

From the choppy, bass-heavy crunch of the opening track, The Origin Of The North, the band suck you in with the playful bouncing rhythms pausing for a scale run-up that transforms into an even bigger wall of sound. The first half is accented by breathy, almost inaudible vocals and gleeful yelps before bringing the tempo down only to go for the throat with the wading through treacle paced bull roar of the climax. Drenched in southern rawk heritage, the band span the gap between ZZ Top and the heavier elements of the NOLA scene in a similar way to Scissorfight.

Hellfayre sets off down the rock highway like Fu Manchu trading blows with early Priestess, the driving rock and pentatonic scales bolstered by full-throated gang choruses and intricate breakdowns before whisking you off again. Given the ability to sound like simple, hook-filled tunes belie the fact that these guys are a trio and Phil Williams covers an incredible amount on lead guitar as he chugs out riff after riff one minute, then dazzles you with dexterous fretwork the next.

Sinkhole and Naysayer recall prime Spice-era Spiritual Beggars, with the former’s stabbing bursts of guitar and Bones Huse’s emotive vocal range and the mellow intro of the latter, backed by Raj Puni’s crisp and clear non-stop drum patter, leads into more delicious syrupy fuzz.

Drenched in southern rawk heritage, the band span the gap between ZZ Top and the heavier elements of the NOLA scene in a similar way to Scissorfight…

They clean the sound up for the shimmering start to Slingshot Around The Sun. Breaking up the hippy vibes with their trademark riffing, the band still manages to conjure a retro summer vibe that falls short of being surf rock-like but features harmonies and otherworldly melodies, as well as a host of additional instruments, to bring the psychedelia to the forefront, rather than just hint at it in the background.

This continues on Terra Nova as the folksy sounds of flute over the backdrop of the drums take the lead before the band lock into their harder sound. Rather than overpower the atmosphere created here, Morass return to the refrains they have scattered through the album time and time again. This doesn’t serve as an indication that the band are out of ideas, far from it. It shows they have looked to create a singular piece of work that can be broken down into bite-sized chunks and work in isolation to inform the overarching story they are telling, but also anchoring themselves as they embark on this previously unexplored musical territory.

The delicate flamenco-esque strains of Prima Materia give way to more speculative and complex rhythms as it swoops and falls, giving way to a more refined swaying motif that feels celebratory. As energetic and full of slamming anthems as the album has been upon to this point, it sets up the comedown of the beautiful Wings Of Reverie.

An almost gospel revival tone, complete with layered female vocals, emerges from the smokey guitar lead before the band return to ensuring that the circular patterns of southern blues refrains return, leaving the listener with that rich tone and hard-hitting edge.

For a band whose name can partially describe an area of muddy ground, Morass Of Molasses never once get bogged down on their third full-length effort. End All We Know is the same heady concoction of the traditionally influenced stoner genre that bristles with power, and occasional dirty sludge grit, but also introduces more varied elements of classic rock that make it a great feast, rather than just another meat and potatoes variant on the expected sound.

Armed with a bright production, it is clear the band have taken their time to consider this latest assault on the senses and taken aim at their peers such as Green Lung in a bid to stake out their place in the rising UK acts of the scene. With the now obligatory vinyl offerings, this is the kind of high-quality release we have come to expect from the ever-reliable Ripple Music and its ability to spot talent.

It’s March for fucks sake. If the remaining quarters carry on at this pace, my end-of-year top ten is going to be in a sticky situation…

Label: Ripple Music
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden