Featuring current and ex-members of bands such as Municipal Waste, Burnt by the Sun, and Revocation, River Black already have a wealth of experience in them. Additionally, with the multiple members from Burnt by the Sun, (now sadly split up), in many ways River Black is the spiritual heir to this legendary band.
This is angry, angry music. I very much enjoy music that’s seething with aggressive emotion and violent lethality, and this is very much one such release.
River Black play aggressive metal with hardcore bite. Think of Burnt by the Sun taken to its logical conclusion; heavier, darker, nastier. River Black don’t mess around, and this is 36 minutes of undiluted hostility. More rhythmic and less technically-inclined than Burnt by the Sun, River Black is a distillation of everything that made that band so compelling, channelled into an updated contemporary form.
The songs are antagonistic and fuelled by destructive urges. Heavy riffs and colossal slabs of distorted hatred are your constant companions as you listen to this, and it’s easy to get swept away by the band’s obvious passion for their music.
If this was just pure belligerence and attitude though, no matter how good it was it would still probably fall somewhat short of its true potential. However, the band manage to add depth to their furious assault by adding more emotive riffs and some nuanced guitarwork alongside the simpler heaviness. This side of the band’s ability adds a great deal to the songs when it’s unleashed, making for an album that does more than just slam your face into the concrete. An example of some additional nice touches and ideas spread over the album is the use of violin for the title track and the next song South x South, (which the title track serves as an introduction for), and some guest clean singing on Haunt.
The singer’s familiar snarl makes a welcome return to extreme music, and listening to him give vent to his vicious diatribes it’s like he’s never been away. He sounds on top form here, and his voice probably sounds better than ever. As mentioned; a moment of unexpected melody rears up during Haunt, but this is provided by a member of Mastodon, allowing River Black’s singer to continue gnashing his teeth unhindered.
River Black’s debut album is destined to become a firm favourite of mine I can already tell. This kind of aggression just won’t be denied, and the album is a very more-ish, infectious one.