This one’s been out since May, but the band have been pushing it again recently with a video promo (below)… and a free link to download the entire thing. Which kind of makes a review pointless seeing as you can check the entire album for yourselves, so I’ll make this brief!
The tricky thing with The Blackout is pinpointing what audience it’s for. Even within one track, let’s take “What Lies Behind Words” as an example, there are multiple segments pandering to different genres. All are well done, but often there are too many in a single track even for someone whose tastes are as wide-ranging as mine. Partly to satisfy my own curiosity, I’ve broken this one track down. Yes, I have too much spare time (no, I really don’t, but WTF):
- 0:00 Heavy, bassy, jumpy intro with shouted/growled stirring vocals. Guaranteed to get a crowd bouncing. Random genre… industrial. Ish.
- 0:31 Melodic vocals over heavy, but reduced in volume, riffage. Think more alt-metal, Disturbed-esque.
- 0:44 Throatier vocals come in. Just this change alters the tone of the track.
- 0:54 The world crashes around your ears as the bass drops and the distortion is ramped up to contend with/beat the intro. Vocals make Morbid Angel sound like your maiden aunt having a tea party – they’re verging on goregrind. Given the still catchy rhythm to the music, though it’s more… metalcore?
- 1:07 Melodic vocals return, this time joined by a backing female vocalist. OK, hardly symphonic, but that’s where they nicked the idea from.
- 1:35 Back into Disturbed territory
- 2:20 Guitar solo that wouldn’t be out of place in a Van Halen track
- 2:45 Whispered vocals over slow beat and airy guitars and atmospheric chords/keys
- 3:10 More sonorous vocals wandering over a soft bed – almost proggy
- 3:33 Here comes the heavy again
- 3:45 Symphonic is back
- 4:08 A heavier riff, drive instrumental break which now merges with…
- 4:22 …the symphonic, before…
- 4:35 …we finish with crashing heaviness
The more I listen, the more I like the track but it does bring in so many styles that it’s often hard to believe you’re listening to one artist and not some dickhead with two iMacs and some headphones pretending he’s a musician. It’s not unique on the album, either, with most tracks displaying hugely varying degrees of heaviness. This is going to appeal to many, but I fear may put some people off. “I like that bit… but, no – that section’s just too heavy/light/goth/whatever for me”.
Which is a shame. Because I wasn’t that keen on it the first time through, but because I’d committed to reviewing The Blackout, I gave it quite a few plays… and I’ve come to really enjoy it. The point is that it took effort. Many tracks start with a great hook, usually a heavy one… and then drift off a little into lighter territory on a whim which can frustrate until you get to know the rhythms and patterns.
A couple of the tracks are definitely more atmospheric and less engaging than others, but on the other side of the argument are pearls like “What Lies…” and “Mud For My Thirst”. “El Final” stands separate in its own way, being a vastly different track from any other on the album – one dark, haunting, piano-led piece.
As I said at the beginning, the album’s available to download for free. The link is in the description below the video below if you watch it actually on YouTube and slap in the middle of the home page on their website. Or for those too lazy to click and scroll around, here it is again. What better excuse to make your own mind up?