At the risk of sounding like EVERY other reviewer in the metal world right now, “There seems to be a retro trend in metal at the moment.” Yeah, so? What does that tell you? It tells me that I’ll gladly take an old NWOBHM record on vinyl over a lot of this knucklehead nonsense passing itself off as metal today. Bands like ZODIAC, THE DAGGER, and even SCORPION CHILD (fucking me on interviews aside!) have been such a pleasant surprise over this past year, and in no way can you say it’s a gimmick. And the same now holds true for BLACK TRIP from Sweden. Oh, and so as NOT to sound like everyone else I will spare you the goddamn history lesson on how this band came to be and just get down to brass tacks.
With eight songs and a running time of thirty-five minutes BLACK TRIP’S debut Goin’ Under (out now via Prosthetic Records) is a tasty slice of vintage rock and metal pie sounding at times like early IRON MAIDEN, right down to singer Joseph Tholl sounding like a way more in-tune and not a violent drunk Paul DiAnno. You can really hear it on opener “Voodoo Queen” and “Radar”, the latter featuring some dual guitar work that is warmer than a fireplace at Christmastime. The whole record has such an earthy feel that it’s hard not to get swept up in it. And Jonas Wikstrand’s drums sound like they were recorded in 1981 and stored in a vault somewhere, I dunno. One listen to the guitar solos on “Putting Out the Fire” and you should be as sold as I was. Stepping out from behind his customary position behind a drum kit, guitarist Peter Stjärnvind, along with Sebastian Ramstedt gives us a delicious recipe of hot licks capable of melting the polar ice caps. And the thump-a-dump running bass lines courtesy of Johan Bergeback remind us of a time when the rhythm section was king.
As soon as I heard “No Tomorrow” I caught myself grinning from ear-to-ear. In case you missed it, the running theme here is SOLOS. And lots of ‘em! Time changes and shades of old BLACK SABBATH are strewn all over arguably the weirdest (and in a good way) track “Tvar Dabla”. Starting out slowly on a piano, I had no idea what was in store and then it bared its fangs and bit me. “The Bells” is straight-up NWOBHM made for driving to the liquor store at top speed. I can close my eyes and imagine a time of too tight and slightly too short jeans with denim battle vests and spiked leather armbands being the garb of choice for metalheads. My favorite though has to be “Thirst” with its slow, gloomy, foreboding opening and heavy body, like one of those stout beers the Europeans love so much. Just before the halfway mark it undergoes a change and turns into a much heavier song, seemingly out of nowhere. And if you think I wasn’t gonna gush all over the guitar solos here, you’re on crack!
Lastly, and waaaaay too soon comes the title track. Dual harmonized intro leads, thick and crunchy riffs, and a beat you can damn near dance to really get it going, then once again, the song completely stops on a dime and goes in the opposite direction. I love it when bands do that. After a bunch of listens what I can say is this: Old guys like me and some of my young friends who appreciate the classics will love BLACK TRIP. All you “scene” and “core” kids stay away. And GET OFF MY LAWN!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “No Tomorrow”, “Thirst”, “Putting Out the Fire”, “Radar”, “The Bells”