BLACK LAND (Extreme Heavy Psych) CD

The title of BLACK LAND's second album is more than just an indication of their musical direction. Admittedly I would replace the word 'extreme' here by 'doom', and then we have a substantially better description of their heavy sound. Though one hears more influences, ranging from punk and space rock to 1970's hardrock and heavy metal, in practice this album often leaves a lot to be desired. This is due, firstly, to the deadpan vocal style which ensures that I get easily bored. The vocals sound lifeless and dull and I think that they are the weakest point in the songs. Moreover, there is a lack of compelling riffs and good ideas, and this surprises me because BLACK LAND has been in existence since 2001.

And yet 'Extreme Heavy Psych' is more like a half-baked attempt to jump on the bandwagon called "retro occult rock". It seems to me as if BLACKLAND tried desperately to achieve a menacing and mysterious atmosphere (yes, there is also a sample of Aleister Crowley on this album...), but they are not always successful with that. It is like a visit in a rundown ghost train. Sometimes it's fun, but very often it's just trivial. A bit sad, because 'Extreme Heavy Psych' starts quite promising but the initital hypnotic atmosphere of 'Psych No. 1' gets suddenly interrupted by a completely misplaced punk-influenced rhythm. The next track 'Black Wizard' is considerably better, but as soon as the singer sets in, the music once again looses its power and punch.

'Holy Weed of the Cosmos (The Great Ritual)' is one of the few highlights on this album, particularly because this is the only instrumental song and BLACK LAND finally show that they have ideas. In the meantime, I came to the conclusion that I would enjoy 'Extreme Heavy Psych' much more if it were recorded without vocals or with another vocalist. For example, I really like the trippy section in the last tune 'Victims of the Past' where early Black Sabbath and mid-1970's Hawkwind seem to melt together, but these moments are rare to be found. Actually, I'm a huge fan of Blood Rock Records (and of the Italian heavy psych rock scene in general), but this time I find it extremely difficult to like their new discovery BLACK LAND.