Style: Thrash Metal
Release Date: 15 Mar 2019
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Wow, this is some really down and dirty stuff!
Enter 6 play thrash metal out of Sydney, Australia with a real fondness for groove metal. What they don't do is suck. What they do is struggle to escape from the muddy production of this album. Given that it's their second studio album and it took them no less than nineteen years to get round to it, I'm rather shocked that they couldn't find a better producer in that time.
What leaps out first are the drums of founder member Andrija Skocic, which would sound really impressive if they didn't sound like he was banging on a set of thirty year old suitcases in the cupboard next door. The saving grace is that the fury of Skocic's drums combines well with the bass-heavy drive of the songs and fellow co-founder Alex Vexler's amazingly rough vocals to create an evil vibe I kinda dug. It reminded me of some of the demos I used to buy on cassette in the eighties that were recorded in the bass player's grandparent's basement.
I started seeing this as a guilty pleasure by the time I was halfway through and, given that only one of the ten tracks exceeds four minutes and four are under three, that's not too far in. It really ought to be awful. Never mind the awful production and Vexler's raw and primitive voice, just look at the frickin' cover!
It's an exercise in what absolutely not to do on an album cover. The band's logo is futuristic shiny chrome but we're looking at a man's hand that we just know didn't just scrape five lines in blood on a crappy wall. Ah, but there's a crossbar for no apparent reason except that it makes six lines. Enter 6, geddit? Ugh. And yet the album is called Black Dolphin. Why? It's got entirely nothing to do anything. I have no idea. Why the hell not?
But, however awful it ought to be (and it's easy to find flaws), I have to say that I kind of enjoyed this. The band sound like they're really into it and they don't hold back at all. Ironically, if I could hear what they were doing, I might actually enjoy it less. As it is, they hurl themselves into track after track without any real surety that they're going to make it out alive on the other side and that makes for an energy that invigorated me.
I particularly like how they end these songs because it doesn't ever feel like they plan to. They just wrap up tracks because someone bought a round or the kettle boiled or a demon manifested in the middle of their rehearsal space. Yet every ending somehow works. Every song ends with the same attitude that endowed it with energy and power and brutality, even if it would have been twice as long in another band's hands.
Case in point: my favourite track here is probably All for Nothing, which starts at a hundred miles an hour, speeds up in the middle, does a groove metal stop/start thing for a while, goes so wild with its vocals that I'm not sure if it's supposed to be blackened thrash or some sort of tea party for baboons, gets lost for a moment and then kicks back in just in time to end with an unexpected flourish. I'm not even sure that it's good but it's absolutely delightful, punk as all get out and utterly no nonsense.
And really, that's what this album is. It's no nonsense, balls to the wall, who gives a shit, energy releasing mayhem. It may sound like they murdered the producer during the opening song and left him twitching on the mixing desk while they recorded the album, but it's really honest stuff, warts and all, and I appreciated that. It's the most Australian thing about the whole thing. I've heard a lot better material over the last couple of weeks but I doubt that I enjoyed half of it more than this.