Those familiar with Baltimore acid-Blues combo The Flying Eyes may be blissfully unaware that two of that happy breed make up the larger share of an outfit bearing the name Black Lung. This darker-sounding trio, however, is no maelstrom of evil hostility, and has more in common with the parent band than the moniker might suggest.
Third album Ancients (Ripple Music) begins with the melancholic, heavy chords of ‘Mother Of The Sun’, but the melody soon gives way to crushing Stoner grooves and a rhythm-heavy sound which is remarkable given the lack of a bass guitar in the setup. Dave Cavalier’s vocal is a harmonic holler which occasionally threatens to spin out of control, but it’s deliciously underpinned by his oscillating guitar assault, twinned with Adam Bufano. The title track is another rumbler, Cavalier’s vocal possessing the depth of Hendrix while his screams create a disturbing hybrid of Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling and a certain Paul Gadd. Again those guitars writhe and pulsate while the the riffs complement Elias Schutzman’s wonderful drums.
‘The Seeker’ is a romp: a meld of chugging rhythms and Occult-flavoured howls, some emotive leadwork and screams giving the track real life. ‘Voices’, meanwhile, brings down the tempo slightly and adds to both potency and portent in the process: its atmospheric chorus on the verge of cheapening the effect but held high by Cavalier’s ability to deliver a host of emotions with his powerful larynx.
Schutzman’s versatile, syncopated yet organic stickwork is the highlight of the tense, pulsating ‘Gone’, albeit coated in stirring, wailing guitars and a wrought vocal. The early metallic strings of ‘Badlands’ ride a cavernous beat before ebbing and flowing with a bruising yet euphoric post-Rock sensibility, the leadwork at times reminiscent of U2’s ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’ but with so much more power.
The penultimate ‘Vultures’ effuses an unexpected, incredible beauty, and this duels with a fulminating yet restrained might: Cavalier’s voice moving from calming influence to soul-bearing honesty. Closer ‘Dead Man’s Blues’ is the closest resemblance to the Psych-drenched melodies of The Flying Eyes whilst still housing an ominous fire and brutal punch that lends a fearsome edge to the tuneful structure.
There are many times when Ancients seems more of a vehicle for individuals to showcase some remarkable talents: yet as each chapter concludes one realises the whole, the part each has played in the unification. This isn’t a heavy Blues album, nor is it a melodic psych-Doom fest, it’s a glorious alchemy that will beckon the listener back time and again without you fully understanding why…
8 / 10