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 Allec

Justin blames Blackwater Park for getting him into this mess.