Review: Shallow Black ‘MALADROIT [MATTER]’
Never one to sit still, and fresh off the back of THE SECOND MANUSCRIPt, Shallow Black are back before you can stop to catch your breath. This time though, it’s a little different. Gone are the long drones and replaced with acoustic patterns, that still leave a mark long after the music has ended.
MALADROIT [MATTER] is a seven-track manifest, made up of five cover versions of obscure, yet familiar, oddities you may recognise, and two prime slabs of acoustic Shallow Black goodness, guaranteed to shake you to the core. If you think you know acoustic cover versions, then think again, because this album sets out to smash the mold, and rebuild it in a way that’s unique to the Shallow Black brand.
In the mix this time, are the likes of Deftones, Depeche Mode, and Acid Bath, but to name only a few, so strap in, and let me take you on a little sonic ride…
Opening the festivities is a brand new Shallow Black piece, entitled Some Of The Old Songs, Sam, which opens swiftly with the trademark Shallow Black construct of soundbites, before dropping in with a far more pensive, darkly delicious segment, filled with ambient sound, and droned guitar, which occasionally whips through the quagmire.
As track two opens, it’s easy to recognise who it is, as the instant hit of unique Deftones goodness swathes in, to stamp its mark. Digital Bath, of all tracks, is the chosen one, and where this could have divided fans, it’s an honourable and perfectly balanced recreation. As moody as it is trippy, with a little touch of Shallow Black magic, it actually feels incredibly doomier. It is a faithful rendition of the Deftones classic, infused with a little darkness, which makes for a far more interesting cover than I even thought was possible.
I Feel You, the Depeche Mode classic, hits the turntable next. Now, I know from my own experiences it’s been covered before, but never like this. Its darker, moodier composition feels somewhat disjointed, but it still remains within the keeping of the original. Again, it’s faithful but is reworked in a way that makes it totally Shallow Black.
that’s the thing with Shallow Black, whatever you are expecting, you can guarantee it isn’t what you will be getting…
Next up is Closure, the Chevelle classic, and this one features the expert vocal stylings of EMBR’s Crystal Bigelow. Now, I’m gonna put my hands up, and admit this is the point where all my musical knowledge falls flat. I know the band’s name, but that’s it, and even after hearing the Shallow Black rendition, I’m none the wise. That being said, and basing it on its own merits, It’s still incredibly cool. It’s deep, dark, and hypnotic.
Acid Bath’s Venus Blue gets the Shallow Black treatment next, and again, the multi-instrumentalist shakes things up completely. After an opening that feels like it could have been lifted off of an Iron Maiden track, the guttural growls, with drum and guitar accompaniment, kicks in, to stir things up completely. After a quick trip to visit PJ Harvey’s To Bring You My Love, which is a super cool reimagining, we are left with the second Shallow Black offering on the album, I Am The Moth.
In typical Shallow Black style, it starts with a scream, which is swiftly followed by what sounds like a dual guitar mix of clean guitar, and another more distorted guitar, which has added overbite. At times it has a ring of Metallica about it, especially when the vocal kicks in, and those James Hetfield tones are clearly evident. It sounds Metallica-esque, but darker somehow. This track shows the evolution that Shallow Black is on, and if it continues this way, the next release should hold something really special indeed.
It’s quite an eclectic mix of subject matter as an overview, and to step back, and look at it as a whole, it really does make for some interesting listening indeed. But that’s the thing with Shallow Black, whatever you are expecting, you can guarantee it isn’t what you will be getting.
With such a quick turnaround from the previous release, it all feels like it’s heading in a specific direction. As to where that direction is, time will tell, and the devil himself doesn’t even know, but with musical oddities such as Shallow Black out there, one thing is for certain, it’s never gonna get dull.
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Scribed by: Lee Beamish