REVIEW! Black Emerald - Hell Can’t Handle All Of Us

January 4, 2018

As dawn breaks on the 2018 many of us reflect on the year past, our achievements and goals for the upcoming trip around the sun. Here in The Revival offices I am looking ahead to a year packed with new music and a shed load of live shows to consume my rapidly filling calendar.

The first band to break cover of the year are Reading trio Black Emerald, with their latest offering Hell Can’t Handle All Of Us. Their new album crossing my desk in the first week of the year and due for general release in early February.

Opening the recording is the title track from the album, we are greeted with a throbbing drum intro, direct and forceful, grabbing the attention prior to Edd Higg’s rawring guitars kicking in and drawing the listener into their world. Lyrically thought provoking, the vocals entwine with the music resulting in a mildly progressive outlook.

The theme continues through Life if Anxiety, Connor Shortt grabbing you with another drum intro prior to the thrashy guitars kicking in. The vocal performance is a mix of dirty, throaty goodness reminding me a little of Prong’s Tommy Victor but in this track mixed in with the guest appearance of Craig Mcbrearty of Gutlocker.

Dr. Stein is slower, darker and a hell of a lot heavier. A grim lyrical story winds throughout leading to a manic, psychotic episode mid song prior to its doom laden ending. All the while remaining thoroughly engrossing. B.O.D. on the other hand increases the pace once more and introduces an element of groove into tales of drink and drug woes. One For The Road continues in similar lyrical vein, an upbeat number with an element of traditional hard rock and guitar solos reminiscent of the late Randy Rhodes.

Voodoo Princess releases the skills of Simon Hall on bass with an almost hypnotic baseline throughout. The record takes a slight twist adding a stoner rock element at this point keeping that strong bass sound in both Drown in the River and Sculptures to the Sky. Figure on a Barbed Wire Cross is much the same, the guitars screaming through the anthemic tune.

The band describe themselves as "accidental prog" and apart from the albums title track, which hints at this, I haven't really been able to associate the label to their album so far. But Jonestown changes all that. If you need to understand the meaning of the term they have coined for themselves, this song is it. Starting with light guitars and a faint sample track in the background drums and bass kick in building the atmosphere almost Tool like. Wavering between slow & heavy and fast & aggressive the song fluctuates perfectly adding samples at just the right points to accentuate the songs brilliance. At nine minutes in length, the track is an epic masterpiece of musical elegance and lifts the impact the album has.

Overall the album fully highlights the many talents the three members have to offer and delivers a diverse sounding opus. From traditional hard rock influences to thrashy riffs and stoner rock vibes the albums builds in mystique before blowing the listener away with the final grenade in Jonestown. If this is the start of things to come, 2018 is going to be a great year.




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