Reeking of causticity and aggressive passion, Grief the debut album from UK metallers Black Dogs, is a barbaric full introduction to a band with the armoury to be a powerful future force within British metal. Rife with grooves which seduce the wounds caused by the violent riffing and rhythmic antagonism, the ten track brawl shows exactly why there is a powerful buzz about the Northern pack. Corrupting the senses with a brew of metalcore, hardcore, and groove metal, Black Dogs is a potent storm of creative spite poised to explode, Grief the possible trigger.
Since forming in 2011, Black Dogs has built a strong reputation through their raw and merciless live shows, performances which has seen the quartet share stages with the likes of Hatebreed, Stray from the Path, Bring Me The Horizon, Feed the Rhino, Heart of a Coward and most recently supporting Heights on their debut UK tour. Their stature and the acclaim around them has been on a swift ascent with appearances at Hit the Deck Festivals and Download Festival only adding to their stock, something Grief will only powerfully accelerate you suspect. Released via Destroy Everything, the release is a stirring and magnetic confrontation, one which though not perfect declares a promise and already rich quality in the band which needs to be closely followed.
The release offloads battering rhythms and snarling riffs upon the senses from its opening seconds, first song Hellhole stomping rigorously through the ear with combative intent and malicious intensity. With a just as immediate groove temptingly veining the track and squalling hardcore vocals grazing its surface, the song tells you all you need to know about album and band, and whether their ravaging is the quest you wish to be chewed up by.
From the impressive start 13 Bastards next takes its predacious share of the senses, sinew empowered riffs and a deliciously malevolent bass sound smothering and confronting ears and emotions. Once again an irresistible groove entwines its primal seduction around the imagination as the vocals unleash a cauldron of passion and venom. Continuing the intense stance of the album with equal strength and quality, the bass an especially vociferous presence, the track makes way for the savage Krokodil. It is of the same stock as its predecessors, and those to come, which brings up the only quibble with the album, a similarity to the structure and attack of songs which needs an attentive focus to distinguish and discover the undoubted individual twists and temptations of the tracks. It is not a massive issue when the album from start to finish is thrilling, but something lazier listeners may flounder with.
Both Savages and Shame enflame the passions, the first as you can imagine from its title is an unbridled fury but one which lurches and twists with incisive riffs and rhythmic adventure around its core groove and intensive riffery to keep things intriguing, whilst the second is a dramatically addictive encounter with a tantalising groove and djent bred dynamics enslaving ears and beyond. Black Dogs has a dirty merciless sound but one which is unafraid to turn in on itself with inventive explorations, this track the strongest example. It is not an experiment which is always stretched enough by the band in songs for personal thoughts, a missed opportunity shown up by Shame but something you can only anticipate will flourish ahead.
The excellent Traitors is another with incendiary grooves and melodic flames scorching the flanks of its straightforward bruising core, invention again raising the temperature and pleasure of the passions. One of many pinnacles on the album it is followed by the title track, a brief evocative instrumental which provides a ready canvas for the imagination to play with. It is a colourful interlude soon succeeded by another discontented vocal and sonic abrasion in the carnivorous shape of She Bites and then Bitterness. The pair adds extra fuel to the passions with their craft and fevered animosity, the first of the two a dark bordering on sadistic threat and the other a less impressive but still easy to greedily devour accomplished ruin.
Ending on the scorching intensity and air perishing fire of Leeches, the album is a stunning entrance and base for Black Dogs to strike on from. Grief simply leaves a deep satisfaction in its wake for its insolent sonic riot and a sizeable hunger for the band’s exploits ahead.
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