Blackwülf – Thieves And Liars
Release Date: 03/02/23
Running Time: 35:22
Review by Dark Juan
Good afternoon, dear fiends and vagabonds. It is I, Dark Juan, and my music journalism career (such as what it is!) has come full circle. Once upon a time in the dim and distant past of the previous decade to this one, an embryonic young writer was exulting in the fact that he got free records for writing a few words about them and cheerfully insulting everyone he took aim at, especially if they were wrong’ uns like Warrior Soul or Erotic Psycho, or, God forbid, the set of misogynist shitbags that were Flesh Hunter and the Analassaulters, or Sturmgeist Fornicator Insultus (who got upset with me after I ripped the piss out of his ridiculous moniker), who still ranks as having the most… pathetic name a Black Metal vocalist has ever given to himself, even when up against ex-members of Bathory like VVVnorth and Kothaar. If you want Dark Juan to like your stuff, just don’t be a fucking dickhead, OK?
Anyway, to drag ourselves back to the narrative before I got distracted by Sturmgeist Fornicator Insultus and his clear overcompensating for his pipecleaner-like limbs, way back when in 2018, I got a copy of (from Oakland, USA) Blackwülf’s “Sinister Sides” album and I remembered being carried off on “frothy purple waves of enthusiasm” by them. They were also roundly chastised by Dark Juan for having the temerity to release a fucking ballad on that album and Dark Juan is not positively disposed towards ballads. Let us see whether they have made the same mistake again…
Blackwülf sounds like hot desert nights and mescaline and watching the sun come up over the dunes while tripping your bollocks off. It’s burgers and fries in a shitty truck stop in the arse end of buttfuck nowhere and tequila with the local boys in the only bar for fifty miles around. It’s saguaro cactus, acid, Lone Star beer and cranking up the stereo and the aircon while you drive a straight, never-ending road through the Nevada desert. At least that’s how I remembered them, so I am expecting great things from the chaps this time.
Blackwülf appear to have lost none of their punch and their smoky-tinged Stoner grooves are still present and correct, opening slab ‘Shadow’ (and the rest of the album) referencing the darker sides of your dad’s record collection – it’s all Sabbath worship with added Hendrix and John Kongos psychedelics with a shed load of nods towards classic Rock and Metal – I can hear the likes of Cream, Albert Hammond and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in there, tempered with the bluesy sounds of Free and Blue Cheer, ELP style prog and then the whole shebang has a spine of steel with the chunkiness of Metal from across the ages – it’s a real melting pot of influences that all gel rather wonderfully, when, if they were mishandled, it could have ended up an unpleasant morass of noise that didn’t link together and sounded like shit.
‘Psychonaut/ Edge of Light’ has annoyed me, though. Blackwülf have done it to me AGAIN. The song starts off like a matt-black battlewagon, belching diesel fumes and spitting high calibre explosives, but then they have fucking DONE ANOTHER BALLAD! Even more annoyingly, it’s really rather good Hawkwindy swirliness. It appears that I’m getting old. Insert a generic British joke about Yanks here and consider yourself told off, Blackwülf.
Apart from this reviewer’s idiosyncratic hatred of ballads, “Thieves And Liars” is a bloody good listen. It’s a black, dust-covered muscle car powered by the bass rumble of a 607 Windsor V8 engine. The album is superbly produced, everything having absolutely crystal clarity – the guitars are meatier than a butcher’s counter, the bass as butt-vibratingly low as it is possible to get without creating exciting new geological faults (Blackwülf are NOT to be played anywhere near San Francisco) and the whole record has a kind of polished, professional feel that can be somewhat lacking from Stoner/ Doom Metal, where it sometimes appears that the entire recording budget has normally been spent on illegal, mind-altering party treats and then the rest of the album has been recorded in a toilet for £46.80 and some Tic-Tacs and mastered by the local YTS trainee at the local college.
Once more, Blackwülf bring the best of US style Doom and beguile this Yorkshire-based moron (who isn’t pissed on Breton cider this time) with their muscular and expansive Stoner/ Doom Metal. Special mention must be given to Alex Cunningham, whose rasping rock and roll voice really gives the music of Blackwülf that extra dimension that lifts them from the merely good to the truly excellent. His voice fits the music like… like… the ease and speed with which Dark Juan could infiltrate an all-girls’ university dormitory if the mood took him.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is very very pleased to have Blackwülf back on the scene after the Pandemic and all the fucking BOLLOCKS that came with it and awards 9/10 for an album that is an epic distillation of their previous works, purified and perfected and a damned fine listen whether you are a seasoned Blackwülf fan or a newcomer to the band. Wonder whether there’s room for a Blackwülf patch on the Surplice of Doom?
2. Seems To Me
3. Killing Kind
4. Thieves And Liars
5. Failed Resistance
6. Psychonaut / Edge Of Light
7. Mysteries Of This
9. Cries For A Dying Star
Alex Cunningham — vocals
Pete Holmes — guitar
Jesse Rosales — guitar
Scott Peterson — bass
Dave Pankenier — drums
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