MASS 1987

MASS

Mass were formed came from Boston, MA in the height of 80's metal mania. Though they were formed in the early 80's, signed to a big label by 1982, and recorded with a well known producer, their first album was not released. Originally called Axes, they changed their name to Mass after some legal problems. Mass finally released their first self-titled, self-financed EP in 1985. The EP sold so well that the band was soon signed to RCA Records and their first official full length album "New Birth" was released. MASS is: Gene D'itria: Guitars, Joey "Vee" Vadala: Drums, Louis D' Augusta: Vocals and new bassist Michael Palumbo: Bass who replaced original bassist Kevin Varrio.

Fighter Mass  - Fighter (Retroactive) 1982/2010

1.     Watch Her Walk (3:20)
2.     Part of Me (4:00)
3.     Too Far Gone (3:21)
4.     Do You Love Me (4:27)
5.     Voyager (4:32)
6.     Fighter (6:23)
7.     Can You See it Again (4:59)
8.     Slip of the Lip (2:40)
9.     Change Your Way (3:35)
10.    Bad Man’s Reputation (3:52)

Mass are one of those classic band's that have been around forever but havebeen plagued with bad management and record company since their inception. In 1982 the band signed their first major record deal with A&M Records and recorded their first full length album at with legendary producer Tom Allom. Allom is known for his work on seminal albums by Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, among others. Unfortunately the album was never officially released due to bad relations between A&M and the band's manager at the time. Unfortunately for the band, they spent a good portion of the next couple years fighting their management in court. In the meantime, the album was shelved and the band decided to record and release an EP independently. The EP sold over 10,000 copies in the Boston area alone and again had record companies interested in the band. In 1985 they signed with RCA and finally released their full length debut aptly titled "New Birth". Since that time the original Tom Allom produced debut was sitting on a shelf somewhere unreleased. Finally in 2010 Mass was able to gain the rights to the album and signed the album over to Retroactive Records to be properly remastered and finally be unleashed upon the world.

What we have with "Fighter" is a majestic, classic, 1980's heavy metal platter. Much like "New Birth", "Fighter" is a fairly heavy album, especially considering it was recorded in the early 1980's. The band offer a lot of variety with heavier tracks, some lighter moments and plenty of pop hooks. As such, the album never sounds same-y or gets boring. A few of the tracks from "Fighter" were later re-recorded for "New Birth" including "Watch Her Walk", "Too Far Gone", "Voyager" and "Do You Love Me". However, the raw 80's production along with some excellent modern mastering techniques gives these recordings the edge over the "New Birth" versions. As well, "Bad Man's Reputation" was released a few years ago as a bonus track on the "Best Ones" CD. The rest of the songs are exclusive to this new CD version. The heavier tracks such as "Watch Her Walk", "Too Far Gone", "Slip of the Tongue" and "Bad Man's Reputation" feature some searing guitar work. The biggest highlight for me, however, is the title track. It is a doomy heavy metal song with a darker feel than some of the more upbeat songs. Of course what 80's metal album would be complete without at least one ballad? There are two obligatory ballads included on "Fighter, including "Can You See It Again" and "Do You Love Me". "Do You Love Me" actually became a minor hit for the band when it was re-recorded on "New Birth" and rightly so, it's a good song with an infectious chorus. The version included here is slightly different than the version recorded for "New Birth". The song is brought to life by the passionate vocals of Louie St. August. Louie has a high, soaring vocal style that is not only perfect for this style of metal, but is also very distinctive. He doesn't really sound like any other big name vocalist, giving Mass a clear and charismatic distinction in sound.

"Fighter" is a great album. It's really a shame this album wasn't released in '82 when it was recorded as it probably would have made Mass a household name. As it stands, it's still a great album nearly thirty years later. Classic metal fans now have a "NEW" album to add to their collections and Mass fanatics can rejoice that "Fighter" has finally been officially released.

Unchained '84 Mass - '84 Unchained (Retroactive) 1984/2010

1. Looking Good (3:27)
2. Pedal to the Metal (3:46)
3. Holy One (6:02)
4. Still of the Night (3:02)
2010 BONUS TRACK
5. Bones (5:30)

Mass
Original vinyl EP cover

"'84 Unchained" was originally released in 1984 as a self-titled, self-financed, self-released, four-song EP. The EP sold incredibly well for the band, selling over 10,000 vinyl copies and was the release that help garner some major label attention. The retitled "'84 Unchained" is the first official CD release of this classic EP. All four songs are classic Mass! "Looking Good" is a crunchy heavy metal romp that was pretty much exclusive to this EP, until it was released on the band's "Best Ones" compilation in 2000. "Still of the Night" is a more melodic track with a bit of a groove and was later used as the CD only bonus track on "Voices in the Night". The tracks "Holy One" and "Pedal to the Metal" were later remixed and released on the Enigma "Take You Home" album. However, those versions aren't quite as heavy and raw as these initial recordings. As with "Looking Good", both these songs are classic Mass. "Pedal to the Metal" is a speedy metal song, whereas "Holy One" is a slower, almost doomy song with a very somber and reverent vibe. The song actually builds and picks up momentum as it progresses. It is one of my favorite Mass songs of their entire catalog. The CD also includes a never before released demo track titled "Bones". The song was written by short-time bassist Rob Stephen, though according to the liner notes, Rob wasn't with the band long enough to actually record the track. Though I am one of those fanatics that has the original vinyl EP, it's nice to finally have these classic tracks on CD and properly mastered at that. The 2010 release also includes a 6-panel insert with lyrics, a short biography about the release by vocalist Louis St. August and a slightly modified cover.

I have an original sealed copy of the original four song vinyl EP. From what I have been told, in Europe and Germany this record is worth upwards of $200. Ouch! It is pictured above to the left of the reissue cover.

New Birth New Birth


Mass - New Birth
(RCA) 1985

Mass - New Birth (Retrospect) 1985/2009
Mass - New Birth (Retroactive) 1985/2011

1. "Too Far Gone" (3:56)
2. "Crying Alone" (4:25)
3. "Time" (3:44)
4. "Back To Me" (4:24)
5. "Do You Love Me" (3:40)
6. "New Birth" (3:49)
7. "Left Behind" (2:55)
8. "Voyager (Look for the Edge)" (4:07)
9. "Day Without You" (4:23)
10. "Watch Her Walk" (3:40)
BONUS TRACK (Retrospect Records version)
11. "Endless Thoughts" (4:24)

"New Birth" was the first legitimate full-length studio album from Boston metal band Mass and was originally released on cassette and vinyl in 1985 on RCA Records.  Mass are an American heavy metal band and "New Birth" is 100% heavy metal with a bad-ass, Boston attitude. There is a slight pop influence that runs throughout, but it's more in line with bands like Kiss, Starz or Sweet, than the bubblegum pop of the mid-to-late 1980's. Vocalist Louis D'Augusta has a high, soaring vocal style that is perfect for this style of melodic metal. There is one ballad included on the album.  "Do You Love Me" is a ballad that is pretty typical for an 80's metal band. Frankly, I don't mind a ballad every now and then, so this doesn't bother me. Some metal purists seem to think it's a crime against the almighty name of Heavy Metal to record a ballad. "Do You Love Me" was the single for his album and did relatively well for the band, even getting them some play on MTV. However, it's the heavier material that I am most interested in. The title track, "Too Far Gone" and "Crying Alone" feature some smokin' guitar work, pounding drums and plenty of aggression. The album was produced by Tony Platt who had worked with bands such as Uriah Heep, AC/DC, Motorhead and Iron Maiden, so "New Birth" is actually produced better than a lot of other lesser known metal bands from the mid-80's.

It should also be noted that Mass are not necessarily a Christian band, which they seem to get mislabeled all the time. The title "New Birth" comes from the fact that Mass were starting over, after originally recording an album under the name Axes with Tom Allom, that was scrapped and never released. Apparently it was a horrific experience for the band and thus the new album was a "New Birth". The lyrical direction of the album seems to mostly be about male/female relationships ("Do You Love Me", "Crying Alone", "Watch Her Walk", etc.) The title track is just about new experiences in life. According to vocalist Louis D' Augusta, "Lots of new things in my life, new record, new wife, new baby, therefore......New Birth."

Throughout much of the 1990's "New Birth" was nearly impossible to find, as there were no legitimate CD re-issues and most vinyl purists were holding on their copies. In 2007 "New Birth" was finally released on CD by Retrospect Records. Unfortunately the mastering on this version wasn't up to standards. However in 2011, the album was again released on CD by Retroactive Records and was properly remastered. The sound quality is much improved over the original. The overall sound is louder than the original LP release but thankfully isn't pushed to the extreme, like many re-issues that seem to be competing in a loudness war. The re-issue is packaged in a six-panel digi with lyrics, the original LP band photos and a short bio by Louis D' Augusta.

The 2007 Retrospect CD re-issue included one bonus track titled "Endless Thoughts", a ballad that was originally recorded for "New Birth" but never used on the album. It also has a decent booklet that includes lyrics, a couple black & white promo photos and a note from vocalist Louis D'Augusta.

Take You Home Mass - Take You Home (Medussa) 1988

1. "Pedal to the Metal" (3:46)
2. "Can't Get Enough" (3:02)
3. "Want It Back" (2:59)
4. "Over You" (4:02)
5. "Take You Home" (2:55)
6. "Holy One" (6:04)

A VERY difficult CD. to find. This darned little EP sells consistently for over $30 on eBay. I finally got this copy from a very generous trader named Andrew who was "getting rid of any secular music." OK! It took one indie CD. and a couple of old Christian metal demos to get it, but it's worth it. 1980's heavy metal with smooth as silk vocals. Gotta love it. Still have my vinyl copy of this as well.

Voiced in the Night Mass - Voices in the Night (Enigma) 1989

1. "Voices in the Night" (3:51)
2. "Nine Tonight" (2:52)
3. "Reach for the Sky" (4:29)
4. "Chance to Love" (4:03)
5. "Turn it All Around" (3:39)
6. "Carry Your Heart" (3:49)
7. "Miles Away" (3:48)
8. "Follow Me" (3:11)
9. "Call Out Your Name" (3:44)
10. "Staying Alive" (3:31)
BONUS TRACK
11. "Still of the Night" (3:04)

1989 promo
Mass 1989 promo photo

"Voices in the Night" was produced by Michael Sweet (Stryper). The music is very similar in style to Stryper, especially the glossy production. 1980's heavy metal with those syrupy, sticky Sweet lyrics. You either loved it or hated it. I loved it and still like it to this day. Bought this on cassette as a new release. It took me forever to find a copy on CD. but I finally managed to get it in a trade with a guy from Canada. Didn't find out until the disc arrived that the CD. has an extra track that my crappy cassette didn't have.

Best Ones Mass - Best Ones (fore reel) 2000

1. "Looking Good" (3:30)
2. "Pedal to the Metal" (3:47)
3. "Holy One" (6:04)
4. "New Birth" (3:50)
5. "Crying Alone" (4:28)
6. "Do You Love Me" (3:26)
7. "Watch Her Walk" (3:44)
8. "Take You Home" (2:55)
9. "Over You" (4:02)
10. "Voices in the Night" (3:50)
11. "Reach for the Sky" (4:30)
12. "Chance to Love" (3:59)
13. "Turn it All Around" (3:39)
14. "Bad Man's Reputation" (3:52)
15. "Who Am I" (4:34)
16. "Seven Days" (4:38)

I had assumed that these guys had given up years ago, but apparently they have not. According to the liner notes, the band is working on a new studio album and never really broke up. "Best Ones" is an anthology of the band that includes songs from all four of their albums as well as two new songs, and the never before released "Bad Man's Reputation" from a recording session when the band was called Axes. The two new songs are from their "forthcoming" album. With the exception of the "Take You Home" and "Voices in the Night" material, this is the first time much of this material has seen the light of day on CD. "Best Ones" is a good career retrospective of a band who has toughed it out in the metal underground since the early 80's and is a good listen all the way through.

My dear friend Olaf asked vocalist Louis D' Augusta some questions about the band's lyrical approach. Here is what he had to say:

Being the vocalist for the band, I write 90% of the lyrics and melodies. Gene and the rest of the guys usually write the music, so a lot of the lyrics have to do with me personally. Since our latest release is BEST ONES here is a little info about some of the songs on this release:
1. Looking Good- the adventures of young love.
2. Pedal to the Metal- cruising the beach with my friends.
3. Holy One- Good vs. Evil with good always prevailing. Dedicated to an "old manager".
4. New Birth- Lots of new things in my life, new record, new wife, new baby, therefore......New Birth.
5. Crying Alone- Searching for love.
6. Do You Love Me- question to my first wife, poppy song, lyrics are self explanatory.
7. Watch Her Walk- Gene and I wrote this song down in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida during Spring Break. Lyrics self explanatory.
8. Take You Home- Boy meets girl at club, wants to resume party at home.
9. Over You- This is the beginning of the end of (a) relationship with (my) wife.
10. Voices in the Night- This song is about me on stage being sad during the day and cannot wait to perform during the night thus hearing the voices. During the whole recording of this record, I was going through a stressful time in my life. I was going through a divorce, so a lot of the lyrics may coincide with my feelings. Ex. "Chance to Love."
11. Reach for the Sky- This song is basically a positive uplifting song with overtures to asking God for help and guidance.
12. Turn it all Around- Lyrics are self explanatory about the band MASS and what we were going through. This is our third time and there ain't no striking out, we've got to grab the golden ring! The third time meant our third record contact which did end in bankruptcy. Still searching for the golden ring.
13. Bad Man's Reputation- This song is one of the songs of the A&M record which was never released and once again written about an ex-manager.
14. Who Am I? - This song basically is about the confusion of choosing to work a 9 -5 job or being a rock musician.
15. Seven Days - Playful song about getting betrayed by a woman thinking it was love.

Hopefully this will answer some of your questions. I do try to write positive and uplifting songs. Do believe in God the Almighty but do not try to preach in my songs but I do try to send a positive message and hopefully they will figure it out.

Louis D' Augusta

Mass - Crack of Dawn (Frontiers) 2007

1. "It's You" (4:47)
2. "Crack of Dawn" (3:40)
3. "Someday" (4:47)
4. "Empty Soul" (3:15)
5. "Hello" (4:31)
6. "Magic Train" (5:01)
7. "Monkey Brain" (3:00)
8. "Sweet Lady Jane" (3:30)
9. "Seven Days" (4:49)
10. "Leaving You" (4:37)
11. "Castle" (4:27)
12. "Who Am I?" (4:31)
Mass pick
maSS PICK

Mass 2007

Mass was formed in 1980 and took its name from the place of its birth, Massachusetts. Since that time, the band had released 5 albums in the 80ís of which "Voiced in the Night" ('89) is probably the most well-known, thanks in part to it being produced by Stryper's Micheal Sweet. Oddly enough, despite the band never disbanding and continuing to perform live through the 1990's, they never released an album during that period. In 2000 a best of release finally emerged containing two new songs. These new songs were said to be previews of the new CD. Well, seven years later and that new album finally appeared. Both new songs from "Best Ones" made it onto "Crack of Dawn", although "Seven Days" is listed as a bonus track. I am not sure why as it's placed in the middle of the track listing and seems to be on all versions of the CD, as far as I know. Unlike some of Mass' past releases, this one didn't hit me over the head immediately. It took me several listens to begin to really appreciate the subtle hooks and quality musicianship that the album offers. My favorite tracks are some of the heavier numbers. "Empty Soul" is one of the heaviest songs I've ever heard from Mass. This song is full-throttle, traditional heavy metal and one of the band's finest. The only minor flaw in the song is that in the middle I expected a big lead guitar break, but there was no lead to be found. "Magic Train" is a similarly heavy song with some harmonica work that gives the song a slight Southern rock feel, much like Blackfoot. "Monkey Brain", with it's odd title, will probably be a concert staple for years to come with it's somewhat silly, sing-along chorus. "Sweet Lady Jane" and "Leaving You" sound like they could have been written for the band's 1985 release "New Birth", although both are given a more modern sound due to the modern recording. The production throughout is quite good, with a modern recording that offers beefy guitar tones and a clear recording. One of the mellower moments is "Hello" which is an acoustic guitar driven song. This track has a big '70's vibe and offers a bit of variety to the otherwise hard rockin' album. Louis DíAugusta smooth, high voice is still and important part of this bands sound. He bears some resemblance to singers like Tony Harnel, Frank DiMino or even Boston's Brad Delp, but has a unique sound as well. I doubt anyone would confuse Louis for any other singer. The overall sound of the album isn't that far off from what you would expect from Mass. Thankfully they didn't try to update their sound and follow any musical trends. Mass have stuck to their musical guns and have released a solid slab of hard rock and heavy metal.

Sea of Black Mass - Sea of Black (Escape Music) 2010

1. Falling From Grace (4:21)
2. All The Years Gone (4:34)
3. The Right Side (3:45)
4. Coming Home (4:22)
5. Thru The Rain (5:38)
6. All That I Needed (4:05)
7. More Than A Friend (3:08)
8. Justify (4:59)
9. Ashes To Ashes (5:00)
10. Till We Meet Again (4:57)
11. Captain Jack [instrumental] (1:15)
12. Sea Of Black (5:36)

Mass promo 2009
Mass promo photo 2010

Mass have long been a band that offered a variety in their sound. They tend to balance traditional heavy metal with melodic hard rock and sentimental ballads. With their last album, "Crack of Dawn" they even had a more modern rock vibe, though still retaining their identity. On "Sea of Black" the band seem to have returned more to their roots, again maintaining that balance between thunderous traditional heavy metal, more melodic numbers and acoustic based ballads. This album is split pretty evenly amongst the heavy meta and softer moments. of course my favorite songs are the heavier tunes, which Mass excel at. The album opens with one of their best "Falling from Grace" a song that sits well besides classic numbers like "Too Far Gone" and "Pedal to the Metal". At times the songs here remind me of another underrated classic heavy metal band, Riot. "The Right Side" and "Justify" are similar heavy rockers. "Coming Home" balances a pleasant melodic nature with heavy guitars and D' Augusta power vocals, not unlike much of the material on the band's classic "Voices in the Night" album. "All Years Gone" is another melodic metal song. The other half of the album is more mellow in nature, offer soft, acoustic ballads. Of those, "More Than A Friend" and "Thru the Rain" are both heartfelt and touching. "Captain Jack" is an acoustic song as well, but is a short instrumental. The mix of heavy numbers with the more melodic numbers keeps the album interesting from beginning to end. Fans of Mass and classic heavy metal should be very pleased with this album. This fan is.

X-Mass Mass - A Very Merry X-Mass (independent) 2010

1. Jingle Bell Rock (2:49)
2. Grown Up Christmas List (4:59)

A special edition CD single from Mass released for the holidays with all proceeds going to Toys for Tots. A very cool idea. The CD features a metallic version of "Jingle Bell Rock" and a ballad titled "Grown Up Christmas List". The later features some fine vocals from Louis St. August. A fun way to celebrate the Christmas holiday and to raise some money for a good cause.

MASS
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