Black Sheep Wall are named after a cheat code in the popular Starcraft computer game series.
The first impressions of a band that name themselves after such a code is that they must be an incorrigible bunch of nerds. Will the music be similarly weedy?
We all love to cheat at games occasionally. It’s fun, blows the experience wide open and often gives you an ace up your sleeve. But it’s also contrary to the spirit of the game – an edge you didn’t really earn.
Crucially, no such code exists for music.
‘No Matter Where it Ends’ starts in robust, if highly repetitive style. There’s no lack of oomph as a big, warm guitar tone smacks you around the head from the opening riff.
The first few tracks throw a mass of bassy chugging and uniform roaring at the listener – a style of straight-up stomp that’s solid and straight forward. It’s sludge Jim, pretty much exactly as we know it.
There are some nice deviations abounding as tracks progress. The likes of ‘Black Church’ introducing some downbeat melodics into the mix. These bring to mind the better aspects of the likes of much missed Swedish group Abandon’s best material – uncompromisingly intense but with a cold, mournful underbelly to the riffs.
Therse are fleeting moments however. At their least inspired, Black Sheep Wall sounds like a million other sludge bands. There’s a tendency to let the vocalist roar for long, prolonged bars. While he has a strong voice, it’s a uniform, bassy shout that has all the boring characteristics of a pneumatic drill. You know it’s being delivered into a mic held upside down, with zero variation.
More strangely, there’s hints of tongue in cheek humour dotted around the album.
If this reviewer can put forward that this style of heavy, downtuned metal is all about creating an oppressive atmosphere, then the ‘funny’ bits, like where a drunken voicemail left for a band member (no doubt hilarious to someone, somewhere) helps to completely dissipate that atmosphere.
Not to sound like a killjoy, but the existence of these sections are hard to justify in any way.
Likewise, forays into noise and ambience on tracks like ‘Congitive Dissonace’ are more than a bit ill-advised. These sound like they’ve been used for the sake of it, the done thing to prove diversity on a heavy guitar record. Utter banality is the order of the day, some wind sounds, frantic bleeping for a while and then a recording of someone trying to bum a cigarette. Best skipped.
At their strongest, BSW are a solid and heavy sounding sludge band who probably are pretty enjoyable live. Over the course of this full-length though, it’s a taxing listen, with attention slipping away track by track.
While far from a poor record, it stands, they could themselves do with a magic cheat to garner some inspiration and push things forwards. Still, it’s a damn heavy record.
2.9 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 10/02/12