Chris Black, the brains behind the fabulous high-octane power metallers High Spirits is back, but to be honest, I really don’t think he’s been away.
Black is using the monicker Professor Black for his current project which encompasses no less than three new full length releases via High Roller Records in October. I have no idea if Chris Black is a real professor but he’s clearly clever and creative enough to warrant the tag.
The change in title draws a clear line in the sand determining that he has moved on from High Spirits, for the moment at least. Whilst there are plenty of Black’s signatures all over these albums such as heavy melodic riffing, there is a definite feel of moving on.
So, let’s take a peek at what’s on offer from Professor Black.
LVPVS (Album review)
Lupus, as it is meant, is Latin for the wolf. I’m not sure what that has to do with this album, apart from the front cover, as the recording consists of only 4 tracks, all instrumental. This is clearly an experimental album, which could accurately be described as modern prog rock. No bad thing in my book and it’s easy to get lost in the melodies.
Built from an archived recording session with esteemed engineer Sanford Parker (Indian, Leviathan, Yob), the album also features significant musical contributions from JWW (Khorada, ex-Agalloch), Jussi Lehtisalo (Circle, Pharaoh Overlord), and Chris Black’s longtime bandmate and session partner Matt Johnsen.
One curious thing worth noting is that each track clocks in at exactly 11 minutes 6 seconds.
Sunrise (Album review)
Whilst not as experimental as LVPVS, Sunrise still treads unfamiliar territory for Black. It has a darker outlook and you can almost feel Chris Black fighting to restrain himself vocally. We are used to him belting out his lyrics at full speed and power, whereas on Sunrise the pace has slowed and we are treated to a deeper, more thoughtful album.
The pace may have slowed but the power is still there and the album is as heavy as anything which has gone before. Also present on Sunrise are the grinding riffs at the forefront of each and every song.
I Am The Rock (Album review)
After the experimentation of LVPVS and darkness of Sunrise, it’s back to basics on I Am The Rock. Each song is straight up, balls out rock ‘n’ roll with more than a nod to Motorhead.
“Hired Gun”, for example, is dominated by nut-crunching bass riffs which Lemmy made his own.
The song constructs are very similar to those of the UK legends too.
Chris Black’s vocals have also changed a touch; the pure rounded sound we are used to has been roughed up a bit and the vocals are not as prominent in the mix either. This move fits perfectly with the old-school feel of I Am The Rock.
Whilst all three albums are unmistakably the work of Mr Black, they are all individual in their own way. The word genius is banded about far too easily these days but I seriously think Chris Black may qualify for that description for his skill, diversity, quality and productivity.