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Continuation Of An Evolution - 87%

Skarnek, December 5th, 2012

I was seriously relieved as can be when I aquired this album. I heard that the gunslinger-hatted Taneli Jarva, who previously fronted Sentenced, had moved on to other styles and incorporated new sounds into his repertoire. So- I expected his bizarre growl/singing to set atop some strange mixture of Lynyrd Skynyrd and simplified death metal (or something like that), ending up with lesser musicians, and awkwardly constructing songs within a new framework of influences that he didn't know how to properly put together. Well, the good news is that I was wrong there. The bad news is that it did not last into future releases. Let's just focus on this particular representation of The Black League, then.

This actually sounds quite a bit like a continuation of the evolution that Sentenced was going through when they released "Amok" and the "Love And Death" EP. The music doesn't have much to do with death metal at all, which is what Sentenced was moving away from anyway. So, since there is no surprises; this is where my aforementioned relief was formed.

Classic metal ala the genres' well-knowns (Dio, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc.) plods along at a doomier pace than said bands, which immediately reminds one to not forget Sabbath when searching the mind for comparisons. This is, by the way, executed by very competent and skilled musicians who back Mr. Jarva just as nicely as his former band did, if not better in cases (given his unorthodox approach). When this camp does pick up the pace a bit, a gothic-tinged Motorhead tends to come to mind. Still; no surprises here. It's still dark, brooding, classy, and bruising enough for Taneli's in-tune growling. It never picks up enough to get too far away from minor chord progressions and send us into happy land, yet it certainly has a bit more poolhall-dwelling grit than Sentenced.

Some positively dark and true gothic rock influences are to be found on "Ichor". Fans of Fields Of The Nephilim will find out why there's a cowboy hat involved, since some of the passages seriously reek of this smoothe and menacing style of gothic rock. Given the range of influences listed, it is impossible (if I claim that the band pulls it all off- which I do) to not be aware of the diversity of the musicians. The 4 and 6 stringed axes are played with pure feeling, and the drummer is playful, tight, and phenomenally tasteful. I would've guessed this was new Sentenced if someone would've showed it to me without telling me. I would've just thought that they were evolving further.

My overall assessment of this first album By The Black League is that it was written with "Amok"-era Sentenced fans in mind, yet branching off enough to give it it's own identity. That really is how a person should move on from their signature band. Then, if they want to develop that sound further, do it gradually with the new band over time. I will just leave it up to someone else to explain that evolution, since this is the only album by this band I really care to have.