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THE BLACK (Gorgoni) 2LP/CD

When Klaus told me he would send me the new album by Italian underground cult act The Black, he was surprised I did not know much about them at all. I had heard the name and a couple of tracks but that was it until now. Klaus told me that it was not their worst album, so I was rather curious to hear what this trio, formed in 1988, has to offer. And boys and girls, I can tell those of you that are as unaware as I was, that this is a heavy piece of music. Not so much that it is Extreme Doom in any sense, but these guys do not just mix and blend styles; they also do it for 77 minutes, almost the total length a CD can hold. The common base of all things The Black seems to be Doom Metal. But the guys do not stop there. These guys incorporate their fair share of psychedelic or progressive moments as well as a good dose of Heavy Metal the way it was meant to be. And of course there is some church organ sound here and there to add to mystic and sacral feelings. This mixture results in sometimes surprising arrangements but I can live pretty well with that if it suits the song just fine.

Unfortunately in these 77 minutes and 14 songs the music is not always convincing. Sometimes there are a few parts that do not fit well together in my ears. But these are not common but only a few. Overall the music is cool whether it is dooming out, tripping in space a little or pacing things up for some heavy metallic slab. The fact that especially in later terms the drums rumble like on early Venom or Manilla Road records actually adds a little to the charm of the band. I admit sometimes it is a little straining to listen to it, but hey not all Doom or Metal is easy listening music. Just because the album is so long, it probably make this a little problem. Actually I am more puzzled by the vocals of guitarist and singer Mario Di Donato and not because they are in Italian. Though he avoids the high or low ranges and stays in a mid range that suits his voice rather well, sometimes the vocals are little less singing and a little more speaking as well as sometimes his vocal lines just do not do it for me. Apart from these minor things, the album is a cool affair if you dig Doom Metal with a touch of the 70s.

(Thorsten Frahling)