Being from Toronto myself (well about an hour and a half bus trip north of) and attending as many concerts as I can get to (often 2-3 a week at times) I was surprised to discover Black Absinthe only through the press release promo sent to me recently. I thought that I knew just about every Toronto band, but let’s face it that’s not possible and I’m just a little delusional. Black Absinthe are a three man operation formed in 2011 by vocalist and guitarist Jack Cerre, bassist Kyle Scarlett and drummer Austin Henderson. Black Absinthe have released three EP’s, Augusta (2012), Noise Complaint (2014) and Live at Coalition (2014), but this Early Signs of Denial offering serves as their debut LP, which oddly enough only contains six tracks. Black Absinthe enlisted the expertise of Frank Gryner (Rob Zombie–Hellbilly Deluxe) to master the album that was recorded at Gentleman’s Den studio in Pickering, ON and produced by Dave Baksh.
Early Signs of Denial leads off with “The Wild”, a rousing high energy metal anthem showcasing the band’s obvious NWOBHM influences entwined with a progressive element. The catchy “stick-in-your-head” chorus and beefy charging riffs of this track rapidly incite toe tapping and headbanging. From there we’re into “Is This Life”, a more thrash-influenced composition featuring some unclean vocals to lead off and periodically throughout. The oddly titled “Berj Khalifa” according to Black Absinthe is about ““The pain of our daily struggle”, -Workers building a modern kingdom have a story to tell.” and again thrashes through it’s almost 3 and a half minutes exhibiting another infectious chorus. “Pigs” contains some more periodic growly unclean vocals, a style that I personally just can’t wrap my head around, but is overall an excellent up tempo headbanger. About “Pigs” the band says that “this song screams the extreme suffering of a pig escaping a slaughter house. The sounds of the guitar are modeled on the squeal of a pig.” Of the six tracks on Early Signs of Denial “NOW” is the absolute crowning glory for me. The addictive riffing, the kneck-breaking thrash, the pounding pulse coupled with penetrating vocals gets the fist high in the air and requires a rest after listening (I’m an old man). Early Signs of Denial closes off with the more than six minutes of the epic sounding “Winter”.
Black Absinthe have delivered a solid effort in Early Signs of Denial. A virtual melting pot of sounds and styles (NWOBHM, Progressive, thrash among others) that mostly works well when boiled together and served high on your plate. I shall be on the lookout for more Black Absinthe and hopefully check them live before too long.