BLACK BONES, Pirates of the Coast (2009, Black Blood Brigade)
This cover is good enough to be the sign for the premier attraction in the finest of New Jersey’s boardwalk amusement parks. Taste the salty tang of adventure as you plunge more than two stories on the most piratical roller coaster you can experience for eight tickets in the peak season.
The entire BDS project is an exercise in sustained redundancy, but I nevertheless find it astonishing that I’m being called on to review another Italian pirate metal album. The last one, by Los Pirates, was actually quite good. Good enough that after reviewing it, I purchased it. I can’t say the same of Black Bones. Half the time, they’re only about as metal as a Misfits tribute band with a little more distortion on their guitars, but the other half, they’re at least as heavy as your average folk metal band. The music is rudimentary but I guess catchy enough, in the stupidest way possible. The songs are basically what you’d expect from pirate metal — singalong punk metal sea shanties — but the vocals are abysmal. Imagine Glenn Danzig doing an impression of an Italian Elvis impersonator. Go on, imagine it! But even if the singer had been awesome, this would still be a shitty album. It’s bad enough to sing about pirates; the moment you start sounding like you want people to know you’re singing about pirates, well, it’s all over.
— Friar Johnsen
ENTOMBED, Stranger Aeons (1992, Earache)
Under one of the best metal logos of all-time, an encircled skull and crossbones sits humbly, demanding your attention. It’s simple and effective enough, the gray/black negative-image style treatment working well in conveying starkness and darkness. But I don’t know, it’s still kinda stock. This design was seen first on the band’s Clandestine album, featured on the cover of this EP, and also was spotted on the Wolverine Blues album. They also used it on a later self-titled collection, so they really tried to get as much mileage out of it as possible. Look real close and you’ll even see it on the Hollowman EP somewhere.
On the heels of the Clandestine album, this 3-song EP was released to keep it going…not that it was ever in danger of stopping. That album, and their first, remain at the top of all-time death metal album lists 20+ years later. So, the label pulled “Stranger Aeons” off Clandestine, and it’s a great choice. At a short-ish 3:26, the song finds the band’s signature ultra-fat guitar sound delivering killer riff after killer riff, not least of which is the main one: a lumbering, crushing, grooved monster that recalls Dark Angel’s “No One Answers.” Great riffs, great tones, great leads, and just okay vocals by Nicke Andersson. Speaking of whom, he and guitarist Uffe Cederlund snuck into the studio in late 1991 and recorded two songs that didn’t make the album, “Dusk” and “Shreds of Flesh,” and those are both here. These songs are even shorter than the main track, 2:42 and 2:04, and they’re good, but they suffer a little bit in sounding samey to what we’ve already heard from the band. No surprise that they changed direction after this, snipping off the fat a la Carcass’ Heartwork and changing direction in an effort to stay fresh. Fuck yeah, early ’90s Entombed! You can’t beat it.
— Friar Wagner