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Just Like Vinyl: Black Mass

Just Like Vinyl is the band that features former Fall of Troy guitarist/vocalist Thomas Erak, guitarist/vocalist Jake Carden of The Filthy Noise, bassist Henry Batts, and ex-Schoolyard Heroes drummer Jay Bearman. Black Mass is the bands sophomore release on Superball Music, and is a mixture of pop flavored hard rock, guitar oriented prog, and haunting emo drenched metal. The band has been around since 2010 when Erak's group Fall of Troy disbanded, and though their self-titled release didn't really set the world on fire, the hopes are that the more aggressive nature of Black Mass will do just the opposite.

Though there's nothing groundbreaking here on Black Mass, these guys can certainly come up with a catchy hook, shred on their guitars, and deliver the occasional moment of brutality when needed. There's plenty of rip-roaring fret work to be heard from Erak & Carden here, like on the soaring "Safety Word" and "Hours and Whiskey Sours", and the maniacal "Sucks to Be You" combines brutal hardcore, screamo, and death metal for a wild & dangerous ride. "Happiness Is A Hole" contains a wealth of zig-zagging, weaving guitar lines, but the emo-friendly vocals are just a tad too sappy. When it all really works, like on "First Born", the band come across like a union of Dillinger Escape Plan, Coheed & Cambria, and Between the Buried and Me, but there's just not enough of that to go around consistently on Black Mass. A tune like "ATM" has enough proggy arrangements to please those who demand lots of guitar wankery and complex passages, and it's a shame there's not more of this.

Black Mass is solid enough, and I think Just Like Vinyl are getting very close to where they want to be musically where everything falls into place. Their next release should be a monster if the strong material here is any indication of the direction they are going in.

Track Listing
1. Safety Word
2. Bitches Get Stitches
3. Walk You Home
4. Hours And Whiskey Sours
5. Sucks To Be You
6. Happiness Is A Hole
7. First Born
8. Pressure/Release
9. ATM
10. $$$
11. Lucky Stars
12. Dick

Added: September 22nd 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1735
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Just Like Vinyl: Black Mass
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-09-21 19:16:03
My Score:

For one reason or another I've lived with the second Just Like Vinyl album Black Mass for quite a considerable time now. Something that has over that time completely altered my thoughts on exactly what traits this album possesses. At first glance, there's a style over substance going on, with shouty vocals, brash guitars and progressive tendencies all clashing into one another, leaving you a little confused and underwhelmed. Delve deeper however and a whole new side of Black Mass reveals itself.

Imagine if Coheed & Cambria had been ever so carefully placed in a blender and sliced, diced, mashed and obliterated, before being spooned over The Mars Volta and you'll begin to get an idea of the ever altering Just Like Vinyl maelstrom that mangles your speakers on its way through them.

Riffs bulge, surge and splurge round screams, wails and howls, with powering beats and grooves that try desperately to hold it all on the floor as the music heads for a darkened, threatening sky. A rollercoaster ride for sure, and yes one that requires you take a sick back or six, but wipe the residue off your face, settle those flailed guts and you just know you will be back in the line asking for another ticket to begin the ride all over again, stuffing your face as you wait so you can projectile it all back up again in no time at all!

"Happiness Is A Hole" swirls on a spiralling riff that prods you insistently until you surrender, the screamed vocals somehow becoming a beguiling tonic you can't resist, as it soothes through irritation. "Bitches Get Stitches", bounces on a groove that has no right to sound so twisted, while "Hours And Whiskey Sours" decides to go off at a kilter, with staccato bursts of guitar allowing a madly controlled vocal that oddly remind of Michael Eden (ex of Eden's Curse!) to render you completely paralysed by its charms. The oddly restrained style actually sounding more aggressive. That's not to say that Just Like Vinyl can't do all out madness, with a hint of crazy - try "Dick" for a blast of angled melodies, pummelling beats and altering ideas to latch onto the mix of prog, emo, screamo, death-metal, mathrock that Just Like Vinyl blast out with ease.

Neither immediate, or an easy ride, Black Mass is an album that reveals itself with time and attention, allowing extremity and focus to meet in the middle and create an album that satisfies your mind as it fries your brain.

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