It’s always refreshing when you come across a band that, amongst the alarmingly high percentage of over-polished, insincere rock music that’s forced down your throat, immediately hooks you like a fish. Whilst the decade’s mainstream rock production line continues its conveyor belt of mediocrity, Black on Black are a commodity that is becoming rarer and rarer. Hailing from Lawrence, Kansas, they bring with them an organic, unrefined course of garage punk, drenched in feedback, grimy guitar tones and a controlled and unabashed energy that really is a breath of fresh air.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s sensationally raw, but like Milk Music’s debut LP that dropped earlier this year, this unvarnished motif has an uncanny knack of dropping you in the midst of a dingy practice room where a watertight band is sharpening their chops. Let’s Get Cynical is Black on Black’s second EP, arriving 6 months after debut Help Yourself, and it’s concrete evidence that the band is worth keeping more than one eye on. From the moment a whining dose of feedback is marmalised by an unadulterated, close-quarters wave of accessible punk, you know this is going to be worth seeing through the sub-20 minute EP. Black Geometry is relentless, and it’s clear that Black on Black are certainly not worried about occupying all of the space on a compact disc; the band are clearly more than capable of conveying a message in double quick time. It’s the last quarter of Black Geometry that truly grabs the attention though… Guitars are thrashed and drums are given a methodical, heavyweight going-over in a superb outro, whilst vocals strain to breaking point in a no-holds-barred onslaught.
It’s all well and good me earmarking Black Geometry out as a highlight from the outset, but this 6-track EP is a highlight in itself. Adrenaline is discharged at an alarming rate, and is transferred without losing any substance in the process. The Coast Is Closed has some glimpses of brighter pastures that punctuate the boatload of volatile sludge, and maintains the infectious, structured delivery without losing any authenticity in doing so. Paid Piper is fast-paced, and catchier than a baseball mit. Before you know it you’ve been hurried into Ripped, which showcases influences from yesteryear, and in particular Spin The Black Circle by Grungefathers Pearl Jam. Nonetheless, Ripped offers a listener no chance whatsoever of losing interest as it races itself to an imaginary finish line. It’s as in your face as in your face can be.
Time Elapsed is perhaps the most retrospective track, and the penultimate one of the EP. The pace slows a little, but the blueprint remains as explicit as it did with Black Geometry. Urgency trades off with anguish, and another superb breakdown is a fixture in yet another expertly composed garage punk track. EP closer Dig Your Own Grave, at over 4 minutes, is by far the longest track. Wade Kelly’s voice is distorted over an infectious, slower-paced rhythm section, increasing in desperation as the track progresses. With Dig Your Own Grave, Let’s Get Cynical finishes as strongly as it started, with guitars becoming more prominent as the track reaches its climax. There’s something candid and sincere about this, and the strength of the EP in general is a cause for genuine excitement for all of you who are due a long awaited shot of grimy, fast-paced garage punk.
So yes. Black on Black are going to be firmly on our radar for the foreseeable, and will, in the meantime, leave the palettes of grunge, punk, and rock ‘n’ roll fanatics torturously teased. Let’s Get Cynical is a very strong EP, and a hugely encouraging progression from their debut, and if this record is anything to go by, Black on Black’s debut LP will be one for the ages! 95%.
Let’s Get Cynical is available for a free download at the band’s band camp… Why wouldn’t you!? – http://blackonblack1.bandcamp.com/album/lets-get-cynical
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