Review: Black Tar Superstar ‘The Black Flame’

Akron, Ohio is well-known for its New Wave scene with legends such as Devo, Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), The Bizarros and The Waitresses. More recently we had blues rock duo The Black Keys and now sludge/doom four-piece Black Tar Superstar. Formed in 2014 initially as a solo project by bassist/vocalist Chad ‘The Doktor’ Perkins, this eventually expanded to include drummer Steven ‘The Reaper’ Komlody, guitarist Jason ‘Texas Heat’ McCracken and second Guitarist Vitto ‘Deathslinger’ Komlody.

Black Tar Superstar 'The Black Flame'

The cover-art is somewhat typical for a Metal band with skulls and mysterious hooded figures, so even if you were coming across the album without having read this review, you’ll probably get an idea as to what kind of music this is. The Black Flame opens the album and reminds me of Pantera with a little metallic hardcore thrown in ala All Out War and Earth Crisis. Three Witches (a possible Macbeth reference) features some powerful drumming from Steven which will please fans of vintage Celtic Frost and legendary drummer Reed St Mark in particular.

Cosmic Devil Trip is quite psychedelic with some tripped out moments while also tapping firmly into the NOLA scene with nods to Crowbar and Down, offering a pleasant diversion from the so far thunderously heavy music. Things take a different turn with Damned Flesh offering a thrashier tone which fans of High On Fire will appreciate, and as the track name intonates there is a death metal vibe with the precision attack of the likes of Morbid Angel coming to the fore, especially in the soloing. This is a thrilling number for which you’ll find yourself headbanging for days afterwards.

The halfway point of the album is marked by One Eyed God with vocals which, until now, I’ve neglected to mention, but remind one of Gary Meskil (Pro-Pain/Crumbsuckers) with their gruff quality. It takes a more winding, dare I say ‘progressive’ root, even ending with a piano outro, interesting. Black Hymn instantly reminds one of early Danzig with the John Christ laden guitar riffing as well as the bluesy howl of Glenn Danzig himself, before ending on a more chaotic note, a significant break from the controlled blues metal of earlier.

demonstrative of a band determined not to be confined to the doom swamp ghetto…

If the sound of Wiseblood era Corrosion Of Conformity get you going then The Summoning will definitely tick your box with its Southern infused vibes. Like latter day COC there are some massive hooks and phat grooves present and even someone like me with two left feet would be tempted to boogie along to it. Shadow Walkers starts with an acoustic guitar and takes an almost punk-blues/noise-rock route in the vein of Mule and The Laughing Hyenas. Being a fan of those bands and genres made me a little more pre-disposed to this number.

Bloodshot continues the COC influence of The Summoning with a little Pantera Reinventing The Steel era thrown in, especially with respect to some of the Dimebag style riffs. Blut I’m Sand, the longest track on the album at six minutes twenty three seconds, has a gothic Type O Negative quality with a little of Roadrunner labelmates Life Of Agony’s mid to late 90’s post-grunge injected into the mix, all of which help end the album on a nostalgic high.

There were times when The Black Flame did drag a little, however it also demonstrated a good deal of promise too. In comparison to last year’s Old Gods, Awaken! EP it is a more melodic and experimental effort, demonstrative of a band determined not to be confined to the doom swamp ghetto. A solid debut.

Label: Artillery Music Group
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills