Band: Black Curtain
Album: Apocalypse Rising
Black Curtain are a band from Phoenix, formed from the members of an older local thrash metal band called Soothsayer. The current members have some pretty good experience under their belts as well, with many of them able to boast of having played with artists like the thrash metal Big Four, Frank Zappa, Eddie van Halen, Leatherwolf, Manowar, Fates Warning and others. So they have a pretty solid history.
But their influences are from all over the map. Even though they are billed as a heavy metal band, you can hear a lot of classic-era rock as well as modern rock in their sound, ranging from KISS all the way up through nineties grunge and beyond. The end result is an album that doesn’t quite land in any particular place and for some this might be welcome, but for me it was a difficult listening experience.
After the introduction track, the album opens with the track “Never Begins Now” and fires off a fantastically strong riff to bring in the best song on the album. And I mean it when I say that it’s the best song on the album, as the remainder of the songs never really measure up from there. I would argue that the opening song is also the most “metal” whilst most of the other songs vary back and forth from metal to various other forms of hard rock.
I spent a good while trying to source some of the riffs on this album and came up empty handed several times when I suddenly realised that there are just not a lot of memorable riffs here if there are riffs at all. All the highlight tracks have some solid riffs, but a lot of the songs are just basically glorified chord progressions. Of the riffs that I heard, I could definitely hear some eighties-era Priest, but never strongly enough to really pin them down as a Priest derivative.
Metalness and non-metalness aside though, my biggest gripe with the album are the vocals, which are really off-putting to me. Now, they it’s not as though they’re out of pitch or anything, but for lack of a better word, they’re just pushy. Let me explain. I like heavy metal vocals with grit and leather behind them. The voice of Tim Baker from Cirith Ungol is unparalleled if you ask me. So my complaint here isn’t that the vocalist is too harsh, but rather that his vocals simply come across as tryhard. I mean, to be frank, he kind of sounds like the singer to Seven Mary Three. And that just doesn’t work for me.
To sum up, this is an album with several great metal songs, and a lot of other songs that are decent but kind of leave me scratching my head as to how they might end up on a metal album. I think the best of what Black Curtain offers thus far are the songs on their first EP (which also show up on this album) and the opening track “Never Begins Now”. Stick with those and you’ll get a good idea of their potential. If you like those and the heavy-handed Priest riffs, the rest will likely disappoint you.
Check ’em out here: https://www.facebook.com/BlackCurtainMusic/