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Blackwulf - Sinister Sides

Label: Ripple Music
Format: download
Released: 2018
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 8.5/10

Guarantee: Your head will be nodding in the first 30 seconds. Opener, “Gates of Sorrow,” brings a sauntering, Sabbath-y, infectious vibe, that should work for any listener. Like most modern Stony, Bluesy, Doomy bands, the square footage of their foundation is primarily Black Sabbath, poured straight from the cement mixer, but at times, there are also more general Classic Rock elements. Think Bad Company, Foreigner, et al, combined with Iommi, Corrosion of Conformity, Monster Magnet, et al.


The understated production ends up playing a large role in the sound, to positive and negative effect. The pros: gratifyingly dusty neck pickup electric guitar tones, the church-bell resonances of the acoustic guitar strings, Alex Cunningham’s nondescript-but-powerful vocals. The con: the drums end up a bit buried, which robs the songs of some of their groove. The Sabbath debt is so strong, that Tony Iommi probably deserves a songwriting credit on some of the tunes, especially the enjoyable “Blind to Fate” and the “Children of the Grave”-reminiscent Dead to the World.” Funny: the cover tune on the album is from a different proto-Metal outfit: Cream. A Stoner Doom Metal version of “Sunshine of Your Love” is the most natural, obvious thing in the world, and Blackwulf do it exactly right. Sometimes something steeped in familiar, old-fashioned tropes can be every bit as great as something cutting-edge and trailblazing. On Sinister Sides, Blackwulf show no ambition for breaking boundaries, but instead do what it takes to bring good, old-school Metal mud. This is not an album that’s about spotlight riffs or techniques (although there are some tasty solos), it’s about feel. While listening, the music keeps drawing me back in, grabbing my attention in good ways. Dig the songs I mentioned, along with the title track and “The Tempest.”

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