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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Blackshine

Soulless and Proud

Review by Mike Korn

This is a most interesting release from a band I wasn't really familiar with before. Hailing from Sweden, Blackshine call their music "Goth And Roll" for its mixture of gloominess and raw power. However, I don't really find that to be a good description. The energy level here is much, much higher than any goth release I've heard and the tunes are very raw and heavy. Metal fans will have no problem with this, as parts of it are easily comparable to Motorhead and especially the more recent stuff from Entombed. The musical structures are fairly simple and there's a dirty, punky feeling to the music. Over this rough backbone, Blackshine layers some minor-key guitar chords and progressions, which gives their material the gothic feel. The vocals are kind of gravelly but always understandable.

It all works pretty well. Blackshine find themselves in a kind of comfort zone where heavy metal, punk, goth and rock can co-exist. Plus there's a lot of ghoulish goings-on in the lyrics, indicated by the excellent "Carrie" inspired cover. Misfits fans should dig this, too. This is a strong release by a band that definitely has its own spooky identity.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Love Our Hell
This is a powerful start, as a heavy, rough guitar riff cuts through the cobwebs pretty quickly. Entombed's "Wolverine Blues" is a good point of reference, but this is catchier and more melodic. It is a fine, crunching track.
Soulless and Proud
The Goth elements become a little more apparent here, even though the tune is actually faster than "Love Our Hell". Tumbling, depressive guitar melodies circulate over a heavy backdrop. There's some cool chord changes and the tune manages to be both aggressive and gloomy.
Sacrifice
This is probably the most overtly Goth track on the disc. It's still rough rock and roll, but they are obviously going more for low-key melody and the vocals reflect it. It's not really one for those into the heavier stuff.
Choked on Feathers
I found this to be pretty average. It seems to be rather too reminiscent of the previous tracks, and so lacks its own touch.
Another Twist
This is some hard-rocking metal with a real punky feel to it. Fast and heavy, it ups the ante as far as adrenaline goes. More comparisons can be made to modern day Entombed.
Light the Fuse
There's a heavy Motorhead feeling to this one, reminding me especially of their early days ala "Bomber" and "Overkill". Blackshine add those unhappy guitar melodies to make the song their own.
Servants of the Harvest
One of my favorite tunes, this has a really ominous mid-paced stalking feel to it. There's some slower guitar melodies towards the end that kind of creep up on you.
Shadowman
Ripping metallic rock with maximum crunch, there's an almost rockabilly feel underneath this song and it's about as good a punk/metal crossover as I've heard in the last couple years. The energy level is high here.
Blackheart Brain
This sounds like it could have come right off Entombed's "Uprising" album. It starts really fast and furious with catchy vocal hooks. The chorus is really heavy, but not until you get about two-thirds of the way through. The band hits a killer slow and doomy riff with a kind of bluesy feel. It is just an outstanding riff, and a great song.
Outcast
Staccato, hammering riffs typify this tune. I like the hook they come up with on the chorus, but the rest of the track is forgettable.
Full Moon Rising
Shuffling bass/drum interplay introduces this one, the tale of a werewolf's evil deeds. It's another really heavy cruncher with a kind of a mournful texture to it. There's a strong Motorhead feel to the guitar soloing.
 
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