"Don't Be Scared of the Dark" by MassasaugaReview
As the most cursory reading of my articles will tell you, I like artists who are confident in standing out from the mediocrity of the crowd & being true to themselves. Those are the one I choose to write about. Some however take these things further still & create whole worlds for their music to inhabit. Such are Massasauga, who with each successive release just take us deeper into what can only be described as Massasaugaworld.
Again, you know by now how much that world appeals to me. However even without all that prior experience, who could seriously resist a band whose next EP will be called ‘The Only Good Wizard is a Dead Wizard'?
Introducing us to the songs on it will be lead single "Don't Be Scared of the Dark", out on the 3rd of May. While the EP as a whole is inspired by the mass hysteria of the seventeenth century witch trials phenomenon & the culture of fear which created it, I'm advised that the title track will deal with the subject with the greatest specificity: to begin with, the band are setting the scene & the mood for us.
This, they do very well: though it's worth suggesting that although so many of their songs are vividly narrative, like the best film noir, even powerful stories can be put into the shade by an intense sense of emotion & context. Massasaugasongs can terrify you even if (shame on you), you don't pay attention to the tale being told.
By the time you read this (assuming that you read it the day I after I wrote it), there will also be what I can only describe as "their best yet" video to accompany it: melding footage of them playing it with high quality imagery to reinforce the cinematic nature (as with every one of their songs to be fair) of "Don't Be Scared of the Dark".
The song is rather different to earlier tracks in that Conrad (appropriately given the lyrics) adopts a preaching approach to his vocals, contrasting with how he's gone about it before. Not only does it fit the story like a glove but actually seems to take the overall mix into new areas for the band: emphasising both each word deliberately & the lower end of his register, the resultant baritone manages to sit over the top of the characteristically loud & powerful riffage & drumming without requiring them to rein themselves in while giving us excellent access to what he's singing about.
Which is equally characteristically a little enigmatic: maybe even they don't fully understand the extent of the dark forces to be wary of .. "..ancient sorcery and unfathomable evil waits at every turn.." so they seem to think it advisable to be prepared for anything, though a general approach, the one they recommend is "..when the nights are long and the world is grim just remember... don't be scared of the dark…" suggesting that the root of being scared may lie more in our own minds than in actual dark wizardry. Which sounds like it will fit into the theme of the full EP. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1933: "..the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.." (Aaron Neville took up the theme to good effect in 1973 too).
Like I say, I think it's shameful that not everyone pays full attention to the details which artists strive so hard to create (it's a shallow world in places), but I accept that it does happen. Even those semi-philistines though will get something out of "Don't Be Scared of the Dark", even if it's not the full deal, as once again Conrad & Adam have crafted an original tune out of just the two instruments and put it across effectively with memorable riffing & the customary thunderous drumming being neither compromised nor merged into an amorphous racket: the clarity of the production of Massasauga's tracks being another aspect at which to marvel.