Let’s make one thing perfectly clear, Toronto’s Black Absinthe play a type of metal that would comfortably fit in the mid to late eighties. I’m pretty sure the band themselves would admit that as they wear their influences on their sleeves. And I’ll also make one more thing clear; I’m almost never a fan of an intentional throwback sound. Why? Because it usually sounds forced and manufactured. So going into listening to the band’s third studio EP “Early Signs Of Denial”, I wasn’t sure if the momentum would flow seamlessly and if I would hear a definitive sound that isn’t instantly comparable to one big name band of the glory days of traditional heavy metal.
Through the six songs presented, I noticed a depth that I wasn’t prepared for. An up-tempo metallic drive, clean and rough vocals done masterfully by Jack Cerre (also handling guitar duties, and a dead-ringer for former Corrosion Of Conformity singer Karl Agell), and a mid-paced and streamlined nostalgic sound which can transition perfectly to moments of pure riffing aggression and thundering bass and drums at a breakneck pace (provided by Kyle Scarlett and Austin Henderson respectively).
Comparatively speaking, the band can be looked at the same way as a current band like Red Fang, who have made a name on playing a confident and tight retro sound. As far as influences, we can hear hints throughout the EP of Motorhead, Saxon, dirty southern metal and NWOBHM. Yes, that sounds like it could be a disaster waiting to happen with a variety of sounds like those mentioned, but it all works well and blends together rather defiantly and confidently.
Simply put, their sound takes me back to a time when traditional metal was still somewhat in it’s eighties infancy; big, heavy, uncompromising and dirty with a skill that was becoming more present as the years went on and talent continued to pop up. And to be fair, as mentioned, there’s nothing terribly original about this release. But the band pay tribute to their heroes of the past in a way that sounds genuine and real in a musical world where bands with a interest in delving into older musical styles seem in a lot of ways to lean toward one particular band influence much too heavily.
Marketed properly by a label, this could do well outside of North America where the old school sounds are way more accepted than in their home base of Toronto, Canada.
01. The Wild
02. Is This Life
03. Berj Khalifa
Playing time: 27:14
Release date: 13 May, 2016
Website: Black Absinthe Bandcamp