"Does the world really need another doom band? Probably not, but that might be why Blessed Black should be the next band on your radar." So begins Blessed Black's bio, and, immediately, prior to hearing a single note, my ho-hum radar is activated. Not sure if that's the one they were referring to, per se. But such are the risks one runs.
It's a valid point: does the world, indeed, really need another doom band? "Need" is a strong word, but there's certainly an audience afoot for this commonplace brand of doom-by-way-of-stoner-rock-by-way-of-grunge-by-way-of-heavy-metal. Provided they are good enough at their craft to merit a listen or two, I certainly won't turn them away, and so here we are, spinning this Cincinnatian(?) outfit's worthy debut, for what must be the tenth time today.
Anyways, to cut to the chase: Blessed Black is a good band. While they bring nothing new to the table, it's worth acknowledging that this particular table has been of service for a long damn time. When the formula works, sometimes it's worth adhering to it rather than attempting to fix what ain't broke. Prepare for name drops galore, 'cuz here, Blessed Black employ a Kyuss-ian sound reminiscent of The Sword, The Skull, or any of yer other favorite riff-driven stoner doomsters. Acid King, perhaps, with a Red Fang bite. Across the breadth, Beyond the Crimson Throne maintains a delicious balance between grimy angst-ridden fuzz and crystal-clear W.A.S.P.-esque melodics. I'll harp once more on the obvious: if you're here looking for something new and genre-shattering, look elsewhere. If you're looking for damn good riffs and damn fun tunes, on the other hand, these guys have you sufficiently covered.
There's a lot of praiseworthy material and moments contained within these seven tracks. The sheer Big Riff Energy of "The Black Gate" and "Stormbringer." The foot-tappin' drive, dripping groove, and generous application of melody on (highlight track) "Arioch's Bargain." The pleasantly extensive solo on "The Shadows." And, if we're talking beauty in simplification, the thicc riff that opens "Finding the Limits" is, no bones about it, perfection encapsulated in fuzz. Performances across the board are rock fuckin' solid--competent to the degree that they disappear comfortably into the fabric of the music without stealing the show.
Critically, I do wish the choruses possessed a little more oomph. They are pretty universally earwormy, but lack, at times, the sheer thrust and heft of their influences. Take the otherwise stellar "Heavy is the Crown" as a prime example--by the second iteration of the chorus, things seem a little petered out in the energy department. The vocal delivery has a comfortable lethargy at times, but a lil' extra punch is seldom a bad thing.
While Beyond the Crimson Throne may not be a chart-topper, it's a very impressive first outing (with several outstanding tracks, no less.) Despite a glut of like-minded bands riding the doom wave, Blessed Black have earned my respect--and, should they stop by Chicago--erm, the Sleeping Village--they'll certainly find me in the crowd. While I am increasingly of the mind that potential is overrated, it certainly feels like these guys have a big album lurking just beneath the surface. This doom-lovin' Villager is excited to see where it brings them.
Blessed Black - Beyond the Crimson Throne will be released Jan. 17th. You can check out the first two singles--the aforementioned "The Black Gate" and "Stormbringer"--here.
P.S. this...this is some truly gorgeous album artwork.
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.