Friday, March 1, 2013

Super Massive Black Holes - Self Titled

When I was contacted by one of the members of Super Massive Black Holes to do a review I was not entirely sure what to expect. The name made me think of Muse, who are a pretty good band, but in no way, shape, or form would help prepare you for the music you’re about to hear. Rather Super Massive Black Holes live up to their name, as they seem to consume something from almost every subgenre of metal and beyond and mold it into something wonderful.

The album begins with a blaze of fury, that gives any tech death band a run for its money, and then we get an infusion of some bluesy stuff. It starts to feel like a blues band that’s really getting in touch with their darker side; especially on the second half of the album. The bass guitar on this album really shines because of this and its gets quite a few moments in the spotlight which is nice. The production isn’t super high quality on this album, but that in some way helps make the bass more perceptible overall because its presence and lack thereof is quite noticeable.

All four tracks are unique, but they all have similarities in their organization, In that each song tends to test your aural limits by blasting you with abrasive sounds, then calming things down with slower bluesy guitar work and then tossing you back into the fray.  Its chaos reminds me a lot of the goals of chaotic hardcore bands like The Chariot and Exotic Animal Petting Zoo, although just a smidge less abrasive.

The second two tracks are instrumental, which I’m still on the fence about. They are in no way bad tracks in terms of writing; I just miss the vocalist after the first two tracks. His voice reminds me a lot of Obscura, with really nice lower growls. However, the instrumental tracks, like every track on here have excellent writing, so it’s not a huge problem at all. I just wonder how things might be if they did have vocals everywhere.

I think that Super Massive Black Holes have definitely found something special here. The influence of Blues and Jazz is definitely great, and adds a lot of personality to the band. I would like to see them be able to record on higher end equipment and gain a boost in production terms, but the writing really carries this album very far. Also with all the influences they have I was a little surprised they songs weren’t all ten minutes apiece. Not that they feel short, I was just a bit amazed that they packed all this stuff into an album that’s under 20 minutes long. It would be interesting to see how they would handle a full length. Here’s to hoping they get the chance to!

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