“Brain Dead,” the first track on Katër Mass’ tight and tremendous sophomore LP, Circles, opens and closes with excerpts of a prank call the band made to an irate Gordon Lamb, the Athens scene fixture and Flagpole‘s longtime local music columnist. The bit reeks of sophomoric punk attitude, so you might be surprised to learn that the members of Katër Mass are bonafide young professionals—frontman Tim Gill, for one, is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in sociology at UGA.
And in fact, Circles is a grown-up record in many ways. Where 2012’s [kaht-ur mahs] hid bits of melodic goodness amidst an onslaught of crunchy, lo-fi fuck-you-rock, the new album puts the hooks right up front. Like Propagandhi or Hot Water Music, two groups it has been rightfully compared to in the past, Katër Mass often lets the guitars (courtesy of Gill and member Phil Lewin) lead the way melodically, while Gill and Lewin’s raspy, insistent vocals provide a fist-pumping counterpoint.
The record is a leap in sound quality, too, having been recorded by Cinemechanica drummer Mike Albanese at his Espresso Machine studio and mastered by that band’s bassist, local engineer Joel Hatstat. The result is a thick, mid-range-heavy post-hardcore assault that allows various nuances to shine through, like the dueling distorted leads on “Crawl,” or the At the Drive-In-like breakdowns on album closer “Portrait.” 4 out of 5.
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