Black Sabbath. Iron Maiden. Motorhead. Three of the greatest metal bands of all spacetime. Hell, maybe the three greatest metal bands of all spacetime. But what else do they have in common? Well DUHHH you idiot they all wrote eponymous songs, and included them on eponymous albums! Now, the new poster children of Brooklyn doom, BLACKOUT, seek to join the ranks of metal bands with eponymous songs on eponymous albums. Only time will tell if they come to join the ranks of metal bands who are the greatest of all spacetime.
One difference that is perhaps of note is that Blackout is not the band’s first full-length. In fact I have 5 copies (vinyl) of their actual debut (2013’s We Are Here) sitting in my apartment. I swear I’ve offered on numerous occasions to get these back to drummer Taryn Waldman, but perhaps she is astute enough to see that I’m really just trying to bag a date (no hard feelings). So if either Justin or Gordy read this and want to claim these vinyls, it’s all good, and I promise, no funny stuff. I mean, I’m gonna keep a copy for myself, but the remaining four comprise $80 in potential merch sales! That’s money in the bank, man.
Anyway, I first met these guys (and girl) when they performed in last year’s inaugural Sludgefeast, and they really killed it:
The comparison is already becoming trite, but there was an intriguing contrast between Naam, whose drunken-yet-dignified, somber-yet-celebratory farewell performance had us all reflecting on the end of an era, while Blackout already seemed to be taking the role of the up-and-comer, blazing through the performance that had the room most brimming with a kind of implicit optimism. And that prophecy is already being fulfilled; since then they’ve formed an unholy alliance with California-based, motorcycle-enthused RidingEasy Records, landed a spot on the insane lineup of Psycho California Fest in May, and are just about to drop a great sophomore LP. And from the point of view of someone who books heavy shows in Brooklyn, they’re already starting to feel like a hot commodity. Well, congrats guys! BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MUSIC.
Well, I’d say this is a demanding album. It demands your attention, and it demands your face for the ancient ceremony of bludgeoning. The first track, “Lost”, is essentially an intro, a suspense-building appetite whetter. It doesn’t really go anywhere, but it slowly and effectively builds, starting with eerie, disconcerting feedback, and when the rhythm section finally shows up it’s in the most ominous way possible. The feedback goes from fuzzy to screechy, and when the RIFFAGE commences it still feels like the band is holding back, grooving hard but intimately, letting us salivate like experimental dogs because we know that something BIGGER is still waiting to rear its head. Around the 3-minute mark it does start to resemble more of a song (with words and whatever) but continues to restrain itself just enough to keep hinting at what’s to come.
Of course, what’s to come is the aforementioned title track, coming hot off of the heels of the opener. I freaking love this song. It was on their Converse EP from last year, and I’ve heard them play it live, and it’s a barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world that still makes me laugh every time I hear it. I mean, what the hell is the point of a song like this? As far as I can discern, they’re just yelling at me for being drunk (or having been drunk the night before?) over and over again. And these are not complaints! I love the idea of music that makes me laugh for being senseless. Especially if that senseless laughter is underpinned by legitimately gnarly-as-fuck doom riffs that sound like petrified mutant gorillas being dragged through gravel and oatmeal.
And this is what sets Blackout apart in a really great way, what makes them feel like something new in a genre that very frequently celebrates the recycling process. As heavy and dark as their music can be (and man it can crush), there is a very refreshing lightheartedness about the band. Their personalities – both individual and collective – really shine through, which is a tough thing to do when every other doom band on the planet seems intent on adopting the same old aesthetic. There is room in doom for irony, and especially an irony that doesn’t compromise heaviness or artistic worth, in fact quite possibly increases both. I mean, look at that album cover! In Brooklyn of all places, I couldn’t be more excited to see Blackout continue to blaze this strange path.
So yeah, I guess I’m only going to describe the first two songs on this album, but really who reads reviews for the minutiae anyway? On March 31 you can get the damn thing yourself and pore over the details to your heart’s content. Pre-order it here. Oh and go see them at the album release party, Saturday 4/11 at Union Pool. Oh and stream “Human” below: