Monday, November 29, 2010
Black Sun - Twilight of the Gods
Pigeonholing Black Sun is a thankless task. They fall loosely into the doom field but this isn’t the patchouli and flare wearing doom of Cathedral with a copy of Masters of Reality in one hand and a spliff in the other. Instead this is a nasty, dead eyed doom with a blackened crust, a bottle of PCP in one hand and a rusty blade in the other. From start to finish Black Sun fill every available space with monstrous huge riffs that range from a Melvins like dissonance to a St Vitus style pummel. “Crawling Saviour” comes across like early Cathedral being fisted by Satan himself as the dual vocal attack spreads from a belligerent bellow to a throat shredding shriek that has more than one foot in the black metal camp. “Terminal Velocity” however does manage to temper the barrage of grime with some subtle beauty that is vaguely choral and transcendental. Black Sun seem to understand that pure filth is more effective when you can see the occasional clean spot in the mire. “Gethsemane” raises its hands to Heaven with near religious fervour as the riffs spit and twist around a might central vocal figure whereas “Tabula Rasa” jerks spasmodically like the last dying twitches of a man beaten into final and fatal submission. The undercurrent of insanity never seems far away from the Black Sun sound…like an inmate finger painting with his own feces in a padded cell whilst listening to Slayer jamming with Voivod on 33 and a 3rd!!!!
Black Sun also know how to vary the levels of intensity. “Transcending the Mire” shows a level of restraint not seen so far in its psychedelic guitar drawl but the repeated vocal refrain of “Can’t take anymore” still seems to belch from the darkest corners of a tortured mind. At times listening to Black Sun is an emotionally harrowing experience that threatens to build pressure behind your eyes and make them bleed. Very few bands seem to attain this level of sheer intensity. Many try but invariably come across sounding like a cartoon version of pain and anger…maybe coming from Glasgow has certain benefits for tormented artists.
By contrast “Black Angel” seems almost perky…if it can be considered perky to have your balls kicked repeatedly by steel toe-capped boots. “The Soldier’s Prayer” also seems reasonably upbeat and approaches something similar to a groove but slits its own throat by delving back into Black Sun’s trick bag of psychotic doom to play out the song. Just as you think you’re beginning to get some sort of handle on the Black Sun sound they unleash “Baby Don’t Cry”. Here they pull Oxbow’s Eugene Robinson from his mother’s breast and throw him screaming, clad only in a soiled nappy to the middle of an empty room to vent whatever vile demons are plaguing his fevered mind. In many ways this is the standout track on the album. Not because of the musical content, which compared to the rest of the songs on offer is fairly weak; a collection of meandering discordant doom laden chords, rather it is Robinson’s schizophrenic delivery which ranges from a childlike cry to a full roar. “Because the hurt does not care” he shouts in the ultimate nihilistic statement of despair…there is no escape from pain. This is the sound of a man going through some major psychological cold turkey…utterly compelling but bordering on unlistenable in a voyeuristic kind of way, should we really be standing by and watching this happen?
Thank fuck then for “Warhead”, a pretty straight up belter of a song that rides on a kicking riff and a four to the floor rhythm. Not that this is a straight up rock and roll song by any means…no siree, Black Sun don’t play such games!!! This is still an abrasive slice of caustic rifferama and won’t see them breaking through to the mainstream any time soon!!! By this point we have one last test of musical endurance to go. The title track starts with a cleaner passage that is reminiscent of some the Amebix’s more delicate moments before delving into the pit of despair once more and delivering us to the land of the mighty riff to close the album in style.
Comparisons are far from easy. There is an air of Amebix throughout in the despairing nihilistic overtones, a touch of Melvins in the sheers down tuned heaviness, a little Voivod in the dissonant, jarring riffs, obviously a touch of Sabbath (isn’t there always?) in the fractured and changeable structures and maybe even a little early 90’s Quicksand meets Helmet for good measure...if they were black metal bands!!! It’s not an easy listen and the vocals may be an acquired taste for some but there is no denying that Black Sun have created an album full of brutal, monolithic power and painful emotional depth. Sometimes music needn’t be about beer and chicks, sometimes it’s a catharsis and not many albums succeed in purging the soul like this one. For a first release Head Of Crom Records have landed firmly on their feet here. Seek this out then play loud and scare your neighbours!!!
Buy here: Black Sun