Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Black Sheep Wall - No Matter Where It Ends

Last year, the band Batillus rocked my core with its shear heaviness. This year, Black Sheep Wall has done the same. I'm not afraid to say they've even upped the ante. The lurching minimalist riffage and soul ripping vocals virtually pinned me to the ground with their gravitas. Guitarists Scott Turner and Garrett Randall, bassist Brandon Gillichbauer and drummer Jackson Thompson have redefined the term “crushing” with this release.
No Matter Where It Ends opens with two tracks, “Agnostic Demon” and “Liminality,” that literally weigh you down under their heft. The air in the room tin which hey are played actually increases in density. Technically, that statement holds true for the entirety of the album. But it's not all flatten-destroy. On “Black Church”, ever so briefly, the clouds part to reveal sunlight and blue skies before they are soon swallowed again by a darkness ever more malicious. A noisy voicemail “song” serves as a brief respite before the monolith rises again and rolls the sludgy doom machine at an ever slower and torturous pace wherein every riff explodes with a white hot fury, every note is like a Hulk smash the eardrum.
“Cognitive Dissonance” is a track I would usually skip because I'm not much for “noise” (despite my blog's name) but the visual it conjured was compelling. It went like this. You, the “subject” are in an isolation chamber. The sounds are all you know. As the ominous feeling grows, more strange noises filter into your existence. Disorientation and panic become the norm. You world explodes with sound as you are propelled towards and unseen destination. The throbbing “countdown” seems unbearable. Suddenly, you, the “subject” find yourself standing on a sidewalk beside a busy LA street. Someone asks for a lighter. And just as you start to get your bearings in this new and strange environment, the sound once again envelopes you in darkness and you recede from that world. Pretty heavy stuff.
The vocal bellows prevalent on the album may lack some dynamics but this just serves to illustrate the mercilessness of their delivery. They cannot be swayed by petty emotions. Not that there isn't any emotion here. Hate, disgust and contempt are emotions too. If that's what you are looking for, NMWIE is seemingly MADE of those feelings.
I get a machine vibe from the album. I guess in a sense that the things that would stand in the way of a human bent on destruction (weak flesh) have no effect on BSW. Nothing is left in the wake of the crushing, robotic, militarism that is the mighty riffs wrought forth. Overall, the tone matches the sonic resonance of an imploding dwarf star. The star implodes or course because it's cowering in fear of Trae Malone's galaxy shaking vocals. NMWIE is not an album for the faint of heart or the weak willed. It's a battle of endurance. Just how much heavy can you take? The key is to embrace it. Become the might. Let it encompass your being and take you to places few bands can.

No Matter Where It Ends is available internationally from Season of Mist now and is due for a June release in North America.

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