posted on 11/2006 By:
Y’know, I’m starting to develop a liking for Crucial Blast Records. Though I’m admittedly a big fan of noisy, sludgy things of all shapes and varieties, this label’s output recently has been invariably solid (Totimoshi, Skullflower, Microwaves) and occasionally outstanding (Across Tundras). Black Elk’s debut self-titled definitely falls closer to the former group than the latter; there’s little genuinely original about the band’s brand of noisy hardcore, but the execution is tight and the licks are very respectable. Not quite as left-field experimental or noise-drenched as Microwaves’ recent Contagion Heuristics, this effort will please fans of both nineties-era dissonant hardcore and that style’s more sophisticated descendants.
I know that some of you are still scanning for the “for fans of” namedrop segment, and I won’t disappoint you. This is a pretty catholic blend of discordant ruckus; Deadguy, The Jesus Lizard, Breather Resist and even post-hardcore rockers like These Arms Are Snakes have all clearly done a lot of time in rotation in Black Elk’s stereo, but the resultant songs fail to really jar the way the above acts do. Still and all, these guys are not afraid to throw their weight around. There’s at least a tiny smidgen of metal in their sound (scope out the chugging and crashing of “My Lil”), but this is mostly straightforward caustic hardcore, down to the gritty analog production and Tom Glose’s forceful howl. Songs like “Toggle,” “Baby Liver” and “Cuddles” screech and thunder their way past without leaving much of an impression behind, but manage to satisfy the genre’s requirement for sweltering aggression. Like most such genre-piece bands, Black Elk are at their best when they throw in a little bit of outside influence. “Toss You To the Wolves,” for example, features a crushing Melvins-like trudge that punishes more successfully than most of the band’s noise-oriented segments, while “When I’m a Ghost” and “Who Knew” see Black Elk bring in some partially sung vocals and a spacey, drugged-out hard rock influence (think Jane’s Addiction).
Aside from these few catchy moments, this release isn’t Crucial Blast’s best, but it’s still certainly solid enough. Though they might suffer somewhat from comparison—I preferred the new Microwaves album to this—there’s a very loyal fanbase dedicated to this kind of music, and they’ll eat this up the way brutal death fans eat up Devourment albums. This band is clearly young but also clearly talented, and if they manage to stay together and further develop the ‘rock’ dimension of their sound they could put together some damn good music. For the moment though, Black Elk are recommended only to noisecore devotees.
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