Harsh. Caustic. Slower than molasses dripping off a tortoise’s nutsack. These are all terms to describe the new Black Sheep Wall album, which isn’t anywhere nearly as friendly as its cover might suggest…though tis certainly more befitting of its title. Lemme put it this way: there’s this one riff on “Metallica,” the cheekily named, 34-minute album closer—which has nothing to do with 80’s thrash or ReLoad, for that matter—that had me headbanging like a metal, erm, mental patient, as it comes outta nowhere some 20 minutes in. OK, so maybe that’s not the mental imagery you were looking for to start this review, but did you really want a play-by-play description of a 34-minute-long song? Hey, this ain’t The Obelisk… 😉
Anyhoo, the first three tracks run about an even half-hour combined, each clocking in at 10 apiece. “The Wailing and the Gnashing” isn’t quite as unpleasant as its moniker would suggest, coming in all slow ‘n droney, with harsh sludge barks contrasting a rather subdued, Neurosian verse. A cascading drum-rush initially goes nowhere, as they lay a little too heavy on the mellow, but we eventually get into some less friendly gurgling and blast beats while the guitars remain stuck on slow-mo. A bit of an odd intro, to be sure.
“Tetsuo the Dead Man” is driven off a cliff by a harsh, pounding sludge beat, equal parts TITD and EHG (say, didn’t those two just tour together?). This is about as ugly as sludge gets, right here. Tetsuo didn’t stand a chance! “White Pig” starts off in more aggressive Neurosis territory (erm, post-hardcore Neurosis territory, that is), rumbling along at a lumbering pace beneath some seriously pissed-off vocal venom. The breakdowns are plentiful and punishing, with some interesting drum fills that occasionally deviate from an otherwise skull-crushing attack. It even has a grindcore section!
And then there’s “Metallica.” Kudos to these kids for naming a 34-minute slice of depressive sludge after the goofiest mainstream metal band on the planet. Lars Ulrich would certainly shit his britches after hearing this! (Hmm, do I smell a lawsuit?)