Black Lung

See The Enemy

Written by: AP on 30/05/2016 15:03:56

Given that a simple search produces at least six disparaging artists named Black Lung, this Baltimore, MD born trio might have been wiser about its choice of moniker in retrospect, so as to avoid being confused with Alexisonfire guitarist Wade MacNeil’s side project Black Lungs, an Australian industrial electronica act, an Australian punk rock band, a hardcore punk outfit from Worcester, MA, and a southern rock group out of Whitesburg, KY. But as bewildering as this is, this Black Lung at least attempts to carve out its own niche by creatively branding the music as ‘doom blues’, rather than the fairly traditional blend of heavy psych and stoner rock that is its true nature. Having issued their self-titled debut album in 2014, the Marylanders are relatively new entrants to the market, yet that inexperience is not something that tarnishes the efficacy of this second outing “See the Enemy”; the record sounds more like the produce of an old, established band than the work of three musicians just beginning to dabble in the ocean of effect pedals that is the genre.

But then, Black Lung is not out to widen the horizon. The music is firmly rooted in those two genres, bursting with heavy, lullingly repeating riffs, and loaded with jammy, transcendental instrumental passages in which guitarists Dave Cavalier and Adam Bufano give their wah-wah pedals a serious quality assurance test. Songs like “Ichor” and “Transmissions” sound like a blend of Monster Magnet’s most acidic creations (think their 1995 classic “Dopes to Infinity”) and Black Mountain’s cascades of reverberating noise; drugged up space odysseys that envelop and immerse the listener yet, with the exception perhaps of the standout “Transmissions”, “Priestess” and “8MM”, have little permanent lasting value to offer than the promise of a good trip. In the context of the stoner / psych culture however, traditional constructs such as a catchy chorus are not strictly necessary as long as the music has a entrancing or evocative character. And while Black Lung’s music veers off on a trippy tangent more often than not, there is nonetheless a control over its unfurling. Indeed, the experience of listening to tracks such as “Priestess” and “8MM” is like hypnosis; a sensation of inner exploration with Elias Mays Schutzman's steady percussion keeping you grounded, and Cavalier’s megaphonic singing acting as the guiding light, beckoning the subject to follow the sound of his voice, as it were.

As much as “See the Enemy” relies on the psychoactive nature of the quasi-improvisational musical symbiosis that exists between Bufano, Cavalier and Schutzman, there is however also an assortment of less abstract elements keeping the proceedings coherent. The coupling of a maddeningly looping main riff and enchanting polyrhythmic drumming makes “Transmissions” nigh unforgettable, just as it is impossible not to be enamoured by Cavalier’s laissez faire account of drug consumption and the quest for a higher awareness in “Priestess”. The slow burning closer “8MM” meanwhile impresses by meshing soaring refrains of ”Shot me through the heart! I didn’t care at all!” with a grandiose crescendo, and leaves you with the feeling that while “See the Enemy” is not exactly catchy in the traditional sense, it nonetheless has enough characteristics to continue intriguing the the listener to lose him/herself in its psychedelics again, and again. It is one of those records that sounds enticing on each listen, yet frustratingly never leaves a truly lasting impression in its wake.

One could place a question mark next to the decision not to include a bassist in the band also, as the soundscape does suffer from a certain flatness when Bufano and Cavalier are not engaged in one of the many abounding jams. They attempt to compensate by tuning down and using octave pedals, and while as a result there is considerable low end to the mix, nothing can actually replace the fuzzy groove of a real bass guitar. These are minor points of critique however, and those with an affinity for spaced out, kaleidoscopic stoner rock in the vein of Dead Meadow, Nebula and older Monster Magnet should find “See the Enemy” the perfect companion for smoking a spliff (if that is your thing) or just kicking back and letting the music work the magic.

7

Download: Ichor, Transmissions, Priestess, 8MM
For the fans of: Black Mountain, Dead Meadow, Monster Magnet, Nebula
Listen: Facebook

Release date 29.04.2016
Grimoire Records / Noisolution

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