The Blacktones – The Day We Shut Down the Sun (2017) REVIEW

Hailing from Cagliari, Italy five-piece sludge band The Blacktones have really gone places with their alterna-metal/sludge hybrid that is equal parts toxic darkness and accessible rock music with great influence from the 90’s post-alternative rock sludge variants ranging from Sub-Pop era Soundgarden to the dark churn of Tad or early Melvins. Their first EP ‘Distorted Reality’ was a blend of ‘Ultramega OK’-sized heavier ripples and a decades modernized doom metal sound. Their self-titled debut full-length began leaning heavier in both directions, more or less incorporating traditional doom metal elements into their sound. On their third album ‘The Day we Shut Down the Sun’ the band have evolved towards a modern feeling mix of Gojira-scented alternative metal and tradition-bucking sludge influenced doom metal.

‘The Day we Shut Down the Sun’ smooths over a lot of the aggro-rock edged cliches of their debut in favor of something at once more accessible, yet equally more extreme. “The Upside Down” and “Ghosts” feel like an epic evolution of groove influenced alternative metal, yet recall the 90’s aggro influences the band have always carried with them. The first twelve minutes of The Blacktones second album don’t necessarily represent the complete picture of ‘The Day we Shut Down the Sun’ at all, because the moment the title track kicks in they’ve gone from alt-metal modernists to epic doom metal maestros. That track sets an interesting precedent for the rest of the album primarily because it was so unexpected, but also because it seems the band are set on finding the rhythms to incorporate both sounds into a varied experience. They’re largely successful beyond a few filler moments.

In fact that combination begins to feel like a re-envisioning of stoner rock, ‘Lateralus’ era Tool and something like Hour of 13. The vocalist’s increasingly smooth singing adds both alt-metal and traditional heavy metal expression that works far better than I’d have expected it to as his performance pulls a bit from their first EP but pulls The Blacktones’ sound into 2017. The loose lyrical concept is a description of a path towards a loss of humanity offers additionally interesting layers to the experience, as an entire work it pushes and pulls between personal moments and distant observation. If you’re up for an aggressive modern metal album that is equally accessible and tonally complex then ‘The Day we Shut Down the Sun’ is a great option with a unique sound.

Artist The Blacktones
Type Album
Released November 21, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp! Follow The Blacktones on Facebook
Genres
Sludge Metal, Alternative Metal, Doom Metal

Let everything fade away. 3.65/5.0

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