EMPTY BLACK - Self-Titled (Review)
Written by: The Administrator
While some bothersome haters seem to bemoan its very existence, instrumental doom is a subcategory that simply makes a lot of sense. After all, it removes the substantial potential to be dragged down by sub-par vocals, while simultaneously placing the emphasis squarely on the riffs. And frankly, that's not exactly a bad place for the emphasis to be. Good ol' fuzz-laden stoner doom riffs soothe the soul, and on their debut 4-track EP, Atlanta's Empty Black deliver some pretty promising goods.
The implicit question? Whether or not their brand of instrumental doomage is able to maintain interest across the breadth--whether or not the guitar, in other words, possesses the star power to adequately fill the limelight. I argue that here, it succeeds quite magnificently.
Opening track "Bong Fire" is a spaced-out behemoth, built around a steady ride and equally steady groove that lift off into a series of increasingly furious and fuzzed-out passages. There's a surprising amount going on here, and Empty Black do a very nice job of keeping the momentum going without sacrificing the impact of the low 'n' slow. Despite continuing to revel in the home-grown grit, thick fuzz, and lethargic riffage, the following two tracks, "Hog Tied" and "Raspberry," are quite the emotional and immersive journey, with the latter in particular picking up the pace before falling into despondent feedback. If none of this sounds aggressive enough for yer describing ear, fear not: closing track "Ripper" unleashes a bit of bite before devolving into space sounds. Of the four tracks here, "Hog Tied" fades from memory the fastest, but that's not to say it's a bad track--it just pales in comparison to the higher level of intrigue and implicit sense of narrative created by its compatriots.
"Bong Fire" and "Ripper" are my favorite of the four songs here by virtue of their cohesion and ability to make a whole lot of themselves in the absence of vocals. But, like, the whole thing is 20 minutes, so if you're going to listen to one track, you might as well kick back and listen to 'em all. Given how impressive this debut voyage is, I can only hope that this crew has another expedition planned. And, in a similar vein, I hope that they continue to gain a little recognition for writing compelling instrumental tracks.
I'll delay the inevitable verdict no longer: if you enjoy stoner doom, particularly of an interplanetary nature, this EP comes highly recommended. Check it out on bandcamp here!
Empty Black - Self-Titled EP was released Oct. 27, 2021
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