Written by: Blackie Skulless
Two years ago, Black Sites absolutely blew my mind with their second album titled Exile. The Chicago musicians have certainly not hit the brakes on giving it a follow-up. Considering frontman Mark Sugar took on Bear Mace last year, I’d say they had their hands full. Late this year, a follow-up titled Untrue hit the scene. While played in the same traditional metal style with proggier takes and modern surface finishes, this avoids being a carbon copy.
For the most part, this record lays down the melancholic gradient heavier than before. Though it’s only slight, it’s enough to let it stand apart. Lyrical themes around life, tragedy, and modern issues certainly boost this, and I think helped the poetic flow, which is something that really stands out. The smasher “Call It By Its Name” is a wonderful vocal driven number with a smooth chorus and galloping guitars weaved in. Songs like this breathe life by relying on higher wails and dissonant, drawn-out passages to really dial in the emotion on top of everything else.
On the other hand, Untrue still sports some tracks with a thicker edge. “Worst Of Us” cues up minor toned, heavier rhythms next to a darker delivery, only to fall into a cleaner and acoustic ending. That allowed it to swing nicely into “Nocturne / Everything Went Black” due to its somber intro. Not only is the bass most prevalent here, but this takes the title of the most progressive song. Find tricks like this in “Lost Tribes” as well, especially with its airy guitar solo to accent the frets.
Living up to their last album is gonna be tough, and while I still prefer Exile, this definitely worked as a fair follow-up. Ultimately, I think the prior will suit traditional metal fans a little more than this one. The advancement of atmosphere and production shows here for sure. If nothing else, I would call Untrue a grower, since it took mildly longer to suck me in.
Black Sites - Untrue was released October 8th, 2021. Find it here!
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