Black September – Tide Of The Storm

‘Tide Of The Storm’, Black September’s first full-length release, is a great step up from their debut demo ‘Contortion’, solidifying the band’s sound and proving them to be approaching the top tier of modern extreme metal. This is an album that I can see putting regularly into my playlist; each of the tracks here is very strong and well constructed, and the band plays with conviction and a unique enough to style to remain interesting after numerous plays. A much cleaner, more professional breed of production when compared to the demo now lets the intricacies of the music be heard fully, and clarifies the band’s sound in a way that makes the end result a very powerful and sustaining release.

It was about a song and a half into this on my first play where I realized why ‘Contortion’ had sounded like such a strange breed of death metal: that’s because Black September is actually a death/doom/crust band in the vein of artists like Stormcrow rather than a stock DM group. The rehearsal room production on ‘Contortion’ obscured this somewhat, but now the band has truly bloomed into their own. The music on this album is split into roughly two styles: faster sections similar to a less grinding form of Disrupt, and pure, oldschool Bolt Thrower doomcrust material, and both sides are equally excellent. Black September has chosen to abstain from a bassist in favor of a simple two-guitar assault, which actually works in favor of the heaviness of this album; the thick, resonant drum production is able to fill up the space left by the primarily mid-range guitars and upper register, harshly growled vocals.

The riffs here, even the fast ones, are straight out of the Bolt Thrower doomcrust vein. The slow, epic, sorrowfully melodic riffs contrast incredibly effectively with the bleak, apocalyptic tremolo riffing which transforms simple open-note strumming into something much more fierce and dark than typical. The crust punk influence in the whole album is very obvious but never overbearing, and meshes with the traditionally metallic elements very well. I can’t stop talking about the riffs on this album; even the smallest, simplest ones seem to carry a weight that’s far more than the sum of their parts, with a destructive and ominous atmosphere that most metal artists can only hope to emulate. On the off chance that Black September decides to succumb to ‘normal’ melody, it’s woven in perfectly with the rest of the music, like just over half way through ‘Contortion’, where an incisive lead guitar splits from the moribund, obscure tremolo below it like some ash-covered hand grasping from burnt soil. It’s a stunningly evocative album in many ways.

As far as execution of a very specific atmosphere goes, few albums rival ‘Tide Of The Storm’. It really combines the best of both worlds: the frantic, desperate feel of crust punk with the dark, hopeless nature of death and doom metal, and it creates something that demands action as much as it gives up on the world as a whole. It’s an overwhelmingly dark, grief-stricken release that has exactly two setting: misery and fury. It’s the different shades of those two feelings, and how they’re blended together, though, that makes this such a great first album from the Chicago four-piece. I can only imagine how fantastic this material is live; if Black September’s performance on this disc is any indication, it has to be a mercilessly engrossing and crushing experience. This album is definitely a must-have for any of you out here who love that death/doom/crust niche, and it’s almost as good for everyone else. ‘Tide Of The Storm’ is possibly one of the best debut albums of 2007, and I imagine that the band only has more despair in store for us in the future.

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~ by noktorn on January 28, 2008.

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