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Well this was unexpected. With narry a feint or dodge that they might be going in any other direction, Black Sheep Wall  begin their latest by giving every appearance of committing with sincerity to - wait for it - Full Blown Emo.


Album Review: BLACK SHEEP WALL I'm Going to Kill Myself

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Well this was unexpected. That cover, sure; if Les Claypool started a spazz-core grind band I could see him representing via psychedelic Muppet rejects, but this is the band that gave us "Ten Fucking Billion", one of the more lurching affront to modern doom ever recorded. But given that cheap, iPad-looking brushwork and the shaggy beast cheerfully wrapping a paw around his equally chipper buddy and muttering via text balloon the album's seemingly ironic title, I'm Going to Kill Myself… then going on to wrap up the four song track list with a song titled simply "Metallica"? What the fuck is going on here?

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Ironically it's the latter tune that sees Black Sheep Wall playing to their traditional strengths: tidally locked, orbit-shattering riffs and in-your-grill detuned sludge with Brandon Gillichbauer's hardcore screech anchoring the sound as more pissed off than out-and-out evil. The half-hour plus length merely renders "Metallica" a stitched together amalgam of previous albums, replete with found-sound spoken interludes that mostly function to set the listener up for another avalanche of confoundingly monstrous riffs, but also imbue a certain stream of consciousness to Gillichbauer's musings.

That's the song you're looking for if you got a hankering for "Ten Fucking Billion Pt 2 (a.k.a. Eleven Fucking Billion)". "Tetsuo the Dead Man" also hews pretty close to the established BSW template, adding in an overlayer of screeching feedback and breakdowns that sound like the song literally falling apart in rehearsals, which gives an effective ad hoc rawness to the finished product.

"White Pig" also delves heavily into the feedback/distortion toolbox, but frankly spends a little too much of its running time on unfocused amplifier noodling before setting up the far superior "Metallica". Really it's the first track, "The Wailing and the Gnashing…", that's going to set a few fans' teeth on edge. With narry a feint or dodge that they might be going in any other direction, Black Sheep Wall give every appearance of committing with sincerity to – wait for it – Full Blown Emo.

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Now keep in mind we're talking emo in the 90's post-hardcore sense… the band haven't exactly turned into Jimmy Eat World and shit. Nonetheless it's a fairly jarring middle finger toward expectations, one which seems to telegraph a full right turn in the BSW sound, considering the group play it straight for nigh on ten full minutes without any hint of irony. Granted, there has always been an emotional element to Gillichbauer's impassioned singing, but to hear the man wailing "I'm sorry Dan / I'm doing what I can / I let you down again / Fuck this band" can either be an impressive attempt at musical diversity or fingernails on fucking chalkboard, depending on one's temperament.

I'm sadly of the latter opinion, with this song tainting but not entirely ruining my perception of the album as a whole. It's not just the placement on the album; although track order does count… albums are not just collections of songs, particularly not when there are only four incredibly long ones, but adding in the relative filler of "White Pig" as well and it all adds up to make the bad taste left in my mouth worthy of docking I'm Going to Kill Myself a few points. It's a missed opportunity of sorts, since "Metallica" – all 33 minutes of it – is exactly the culmination of Black Sheep Wall's talents that we've been wanting all along. Yet that extended suite of multi-purpose, fully realized doom is one of the more epic achievement history has yet to give us, which makes the album – warts and all – worthy of redemption.

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