Sunday, December 13, 2015

Black Queen : "the Directress"

When the list of guest vocals on your album includes Wrest, and members of Assuck, Witch Mountain , Eye of Nix and Samara you are doing something right. While they are very dense and dark the first song doesn't really convince me they are black metal and I'm not even sure if that is the case this Seattle band wants to make here. This is without a doubt metal, perhaps the variety that will drive you insane if you try to fit it neatly into a sub genre. The use both clean vocals as well as a mean rasp, sometimes dropping down into a more deathly tone. Within the span of the opening song's not quite eight minutes I change my mind several times in regard to how I feel about the production. Some of the vocals come across as being drier than other. The guitars distortion also sound to be coming from rack mountain effects rather than gain and volume.

There is an almost Deicide like attack to "Silentium" . This brisk trashing piece of death metal is pretty concise and these guys don't rely on losing you with eight minute monsters in fact only one song reaches past that point.  They slow down going into the final minutes of "Silentium" and  make something very dark and creepy, before punching back into the death metal. There drummer is almost as insane as Steve from Deicide. Weird samples start off " the Names of Snakes" another blistering blur of death metal that has just enough old school groove and attention to detail.  The ra primal way they attack these songs with is one of the factors that keeps bringing Deicide to mind, though Black Queen never locks into the almost machine like chug Deicide can bulldoze you with. The clean vocals return this time keeping at a low croak. Sometimes when they get too fast from their britches these guys are not as impressive as when they are soaking the songs in darkness. I really like when they lock into  more of a hook in the final minutes of this one.

"the 3rd Key" plays around with some haunted house ambiance before the drums come in an stir up a fiendish  pounding against the sounds of tortured souls. The riff to this one is pretty catchy and tries to challenge our rule here that 'cool riffs alone do not make a good song". "After some horror sample they lurch into the weird horror punk of "Forever Dagger" which does get some Acid Bath like explosions of harsher metal sent through it. Now that they opened the flood gates for singing , the low baritone croon returns on "Beneath the Barrow" though they are not as dominant as they were on the previous, forming more of a call and response between the two vocal styles.Three minutes in finds the music dying down so allow the clean vocals to call out into the darkness. Dynamically they really give themselves more room to breathe on this one as the song winds around melodic passages at every turn, before bringing it all crashing down with blast beats.

The title track that closes the album out is the longest song here. The song writing lends itself to free form feral rowdiness and doesn't allow the song to have as focused of a path as the rest of the album. It's more straight forward death in some sense.  The sung melody that comes in mid way into the song is the highlight  of this one.The slowed riff in this song's third is crushingly effective. The piano based outro is a weird way for this one to go until the bust back into with a ripping thrash like riff. Even though they are not as cohesive when it comes to the last song , over all this album takes chances and offers a new take on death metal. I'll give this one a 8.5

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