There aren’t too many radio friendly metal acts out there, and if there are you haven’t heard of them because they are trying way to hard. Black .44 plays a mixture of just straight up heavy metal with a combination of sludge that mixes to be something that is more of the radio friendly nature. While the subject matter may not be the style of play certainly is. And that really is never a bad thing, it just means that there is more appeal to a wider audience than that of a band that plays brutal death or just straight up death metal.
Black .44 focuses a lot on riffs, a prominent bass and catchy lyrics. Most of these songs will probably have you singing along with them which will lead you into having it ingrained in your head for days. While nothing is over complicated here, nothing has to be. What they seem to have set out to do is make a rocking album that is catchy and that will get you to nod your head to the riffs and drum beats and Black .44 accomplish that very well.
Through the nine songs on this album you get a mixture of clean guitar riffs as well as the less heard murky sludge riffs. The songs are just heavy enough to make you bang your head but not too heavy to deter anyone from not listening. The music on No Blanks is accessible, it is easy to listen to and it just becomes to be a fun record to listen to.
As I mentioned above, Black .44 focus very heavily on riffs and they are not shy to pile them high. Black .44 is a riff factory, producing heavy riffs that are easy to get into. They’re fuzz filled and down tuned enough to not be a rock album yet they almost cross into that territory on occasion. No song does sound alike and you can tell from the intros as well as the riffs. They are all different, having a unique sound through each song. Certain songs will have that more sludge/stoner vibe, as others will have that rock feeling and other songs will have that straight heavy metal sound and peppered throughout you encounter some smooth guitar solos. Whichever sound you are getting, they are spread evenly throughout the album.
The factor that makes Black .44 dabble a bit into the realm of the sludge is the fact that the bass is so thick and prominent. It provides the back bone for every song on this album giving it that extra edge that this album needs to hit harder. In each of the nine songs you can hear it very well as they don’t try to hide it and I’m glad that they don’t hide it because it does sound great with the crunchy riffs. The bass itself is catchy and at times you will catch yourself listening to the bass and paying attention to it more than you will the guitar riffs. In case you’re wondering it is the obese buzzing noise that is at the forefront of the songs. At certain times the bass just lets rip into a couple of almost bass solos within the album which are welcomed.
With all of the crunchy guitars and the striking bass you need that sultry almost soulful voice to go along with this brand of music. The vocalist does have that almost smoky sounding voice that wafts over the tracks. He transitions from whisky smooth cleans to a more gravely yelling tone at certain points. Where the vocals get a little dodgy are at the beginning on the very opening track titled “Overcome” when he tries to sing (or rap?) really fast which makes the song feel incomplete. He only does it for a brief couple of minutes, but within those minutes it derails the track. There are a couple of other places within No Blanks in which he tries a higher pitched screaming which doesn’t work out for the song as it seems just too out of place for the style of music that they are playing.
With the more radio friendly heavy metal, rock, sludge sound that Black .44 emit they feel more accessible than some. No Blanks doesn’t offer gutturals, high pitched shrieking or complete and utter mind warping technicality, but what it does offer is just some good tunes to jam out to.
No Blanks will be out in a few days on the 28th of this month through Inverse Records.