Black Khox – AKAB

First impressions, people. This four-piece out of Quebec City have a name that should make them a pornogrind band. That’s unfortunate, because:

  1. I hate pornogrind and will avoid it;
  2. I totally judge bands based on their chosen moniker; and,
  3. I now have to describe what Black Khox sounds like. (Eww.)

Once I made it past the name, though, I found that this band actually plays sludge, not pornogrind, and that I can get into. AKAB, their first full-length, speeds up some traditional blues with crusty buzzsaw riffs, drunken lion roars for vocals, and a rhythm section that firmly guides each song to a wailing end. It avoids the N’Orleans loathing and West Coast art-suite misanthropy. Instead, this is ramped-up riff-rawk, full of winding blues leads and solos dragged through the muck. The songs start up and take off in a hurry thanks to a chunky-yet-clear tone from two guitarists totally in tune and playing off of each other. It’s also full of propulsive riffs that can stand tall even after working through a sixer of Schlitz, for which AKAB could easily provide the soundtrack.

Six songs in a half hour is pretty lean for a sludge album, but its brevity is enjoyable considering the tendency for other genre players to draaaaag things out. AKAB just flows by, and it’s almost over before you have a chance to grasp the details and flourishes. As fun as the sound is, the songs all have a similar structure, which also makes the album feel like one long blues workout.

Sludge doesn’t have to be loathsome – but it should be compelling. By any other name, then, this is an adequate effort from this Quebec City outfit.

Justin blames Blackwater Park for getting him into this mess.