By Jason Wellwood
What is it about black metal, and death metal, guys that makes them want to drop the corpse paint and put on a biker jacket? Black River aren’t the first side project formed by some guys who needed a break from their ‘day job’ band to just rock (see Chrome Division for example) but they certainly have created an album in Black N’ Roll that will get them noticed outside of the usual metal circles they travel in. Black N’ Roll is a pretty apt title for the music that Black River play, very much a rock n’ roll spirit, but without any sort of feigned innocence. The album is full of muscular groove, fast punk rhythms, shouted choruses and sing-a-long verses. The obvious punk influence in the title track would definitely not fly in their regular bands (Dimmu Borgir, Vesania, Behemoth and Rootwater) but it flows incredibly well with the straight ahead biker metal of ‘Isabel’ and the slower, groovier mood in ‘Breaking The Wall’.
I would have left out ‘Jumping Queeny Flash’ which is supposed to be a mash up of ‘God Save The Queen’ by the Sex Pistols and ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ by the Rolling Stones. I suppose it was included to give folks an idea of where the band was coming from, but it’s completely unnecessary (and not very good). I would have preferred another original, perhaps in the vein of lead off ass kicking, rump shaker, ‘Barf Bag’. I don’t think Black N’ Roll is meant to be incredibly serious (lyrics like “Never You No More Lie” are pretty telling) but it is a whole lot of fun. Overall, it’s an effective record for Black River allowing them to rock out and bring the fun to the listeners. The vocals of Taff (Rootwater) really capture the sleaze feel of the sunset strip biker bands but he beefs it up with an extra dose of jack and cigarette edge (think Danzig with less Elvis and more Lemmy) although his Polish accent does mangle the pronunciation of some of the lyrics.
I doubt Black River going to result in anyone leaving their main band, but Black N’ Roll will probably result in a lot of people pumping their fists out of car windows as they blast it on their stereos.