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The New Black - "The New Black" (CD)

The New Black - "The New Black" CD cover image

"The New Black" track listing:

1. Everlasting (3:10)
2. Why I Burn (4:27)
3. Coming Home (3:39)
4. More Than A Man (3:26)
5. Simplify (4:27)
6. 50 Ways To Love Your Liver (3:41)
7. ballad of Broken Angels (4:15)
8. Not Me (2:55)
9. Superman Without a Town (4:36)
10. The Man Who Saw The Universe (4:15)
11. Love Is Blue (3:32)
12. Drive (3:56)
13. Welcome To Point Black (4:32)
14. Wound (4:14)

Reviewed by on May 11, 2009

"Listening to 'The New Black' is like riding a roller coaster… And each time the wheel turns, there’s another spiral of screeching, wailing, guitars."

I’ve developed this habit of taking notes as I review albums, and placing a star next to the tracks I believe to be really spectacular. Many times there may be one or two songs that earn these stars, and then I have to choose which song is actually the album’s best. So imagine my surprise when I popped in German alternative act The New Black’s self-titled debut release – yes, debut – and found myself placing stars next to nearly every song.

Germany has produced quite a few great names in metal, but if their debut is any indication, The New Black will surpass many of their predecessors. These songs are well-written, melodic tunes that combine awesome wailing guitar shreds, bass lines that, unlike most music today, are integral to the compositions, drums that verge on speed metal, and gritty, aggressive vocals that rumble through the speakers.

The opening track, "Everlasting," had me thinking The New Black sounded a bit like Nickelback. It was a good tune, with a nice galloping bass line, but nothing awe inspiring. Then came "Why I Burn," with its electrifying guitar and screeching backup vocals, and I had to reconsider my initial opinion. By the time I reached "Simplify," which takes a spin around Mississippi Delta blues, complete with harmonica and unplugged guitars, I couldn’t stop myself from jamming out.

Sure, by the end of the album, you realize that perhaps a couple tracks sound a bit similar, and there is a brief moment in "Not Me" where the vocals and drum tempo don’t quite mesh, but these are minor faults. Overall, you feel like you’ve just enjoyed a really great listen, and really, who doesn’t love a band with a song called "50 Ways To Love Your Liver?" This thrash tune with some Danzig type vocals is certain to become a fan favorite.

Listening to "The New Black" is like riding a roller coaster; it starts out slow, with somewhat radio sounding songs, then picks up the pace an enters the realm of solid thrash, before dipping into sleaze and blues, and back around for another spin around the wheel. And each time the wheel turns, there’s another spiral of screeching, wailing, guitars.

Maybe that’s why the final track, "Wound," comes as such a surprise ending. It features an acoustic opening and an understated piano, and sounds nothing like the rest of the album. That’s not to say, though, that it isn’t a good piece. "Wound" is almost like the lullaby to calm the senses after having endured such a wild ride. And while it may be calming enough to not have you bouncing off the walls, you’ll still come away thinking "Maybe I ought to listen to that album again."

There’s nothing particularly flashy about The New Black, but if you like aggressive, bass-happy music with grunge-y vocals and plenty of inspiration from Thin Lizzy and Slayer, this is definitely one to pick up.

Highs: Fludid’s vocals are great throughout, and the transition from thrash to old-fashioned blues works amazingly well.

Lows: The only fault is a brief timing problem between vocals and drums on "Not Me."

Bottom line: A great alt/thrash/blues mix, and a possible contender for best debut release of the year.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)