Black Seal play a strange brew of punk/metal crossover with elements of stoner and doomy riffage. Sometimes it reminds me of a bygone era, verging on the Eighties UK Crossover sounds of Broken Bones, English Dogs etc. ‘Tain’t no bad thing in my book!
Opener ‘Scorched’ is an instrumental, with some pretty slick tempo changes, veering between slow, dragging Sabbath riffs to punkier double-timing. Quite urgent in the faster paced sections, then in the blink of an eye back to a viscous sludge of a sound. If I have one criticism, it’s the drums (and this applies throughout the ‘Pyre‘ EP), they sound very dry, almost bright. And they sound like they’ve been processed within an inch of their life – I don’t know if they’ve been quantised or just suffer from too much compression but to these ears they sound too rigid and mechanical. Maybe it’s cos I’m an old smeggy crusty but I prefer something rawer and sloppier propelling things along.
Putting that aside though, there’s a lot I’m enjoying about this EP. Second track ‘Inverted Cathedral’ throws more influences in the pot and sounds vaguely like some lost Eighties Goth/Industrial track with some interesting effects on the vocals. The track switches into some a psychedelic bluesy hook with some doomy screaming going on in the vocals.
This range of influences continues into the next track, ‘On This Day You Lose’ which opens with a forlorn plaintive melody which wouldn’t be out of place on some Gothy Shoegaze track. Then the rapid pace changes come in and take it into the Crossover territory again, before descending into doomier pace, with some very nice chorused or overdubbed guitar lead riffing. Some crisp martial snares and some wild phasing on the guitar before it fades away.
This blends quietly nicely into the fourth track ‘The Descent’ a short instrumental which continues with the martial snare theme, before slipping into the final track ‘Conestoga Breaks Down’. This a chugging beast of closer. Vocals come through a filter of shouted rage backed up by a sludgey ‘Supernaut’ riff that stomps on and on. Nice way to round off the EP. All in all, a pretty decent sum of influences.
Scribed by: Gordon Cameron