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THE BLACK MARIA
Lead Us To Reason
March 2005
Released: 2005, Victory Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman

Some will think this to be commercial fluff; but it’s nothing of the sort; it’s hard rock music, plain and simple, with a brooding darkness deep beneath.

Formed by ex-Grade frontman Kyle Bishop, it should be noted that this sounds nothing like that band. Not having been a Grade fan, I foresee no problems with this—but post-punk fans might be tweaked. The album looks heaver than it actually is—but it is no doubt emotionally draining, like most good “heavy” albums are.

You can only listen to so much Death Metal in a night; such is the Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reviewer. And by the end of the night, something like this hits the spot, though you know it might not work for everyone; so don’t say I misrepresented this one to you all…



Admittedly, I didn’t warm up to Chris Gray’s vocals immediately—they sounded fragile in an emo sort of way, at least at first (definitely a no-no in my book); but then his magnificent range kicked in (ie the Peter Gabriel-esque “Mirrors & Cameras,” and the naughty-sounding “Organs”). Clearly, there is a difference between “emo” and “emotive,” “worry” and “whining.” Chris Gray’s voice makes the difference in this band’s approach, more times than not—although he is at his best when he stays in his lower range.

Unbelievably catchy and impassioned, with riffs that burn and rip like wasabi on your cock, this is the missing link between the power-pop fueled post-punk of Roses Are Red, and the emotive post-hardcore grinding of the Deftones, with just enough metallic passion to merit its review here.

“Betrayal” has a good shot at being a single—it has an excellent rhythm, an anthemic chorus, and plenty of great classic rock picking—for which this album has no shortage. “Our Commitment’s A Sickness” is another highlight, representing a virtual cross-section of the band’s sound.

The gothic-sounding breakdown in “Sirens” very nearly, but not quite, saves the song from Mushville; whereas “Distance From The Bottom” has soundtrack song written all over it. There are some great drum sounds to be had on “Ash,” with up-front production.and a terrific symphonic climax making it a true album highlight.



All in all, this is not for everyone; after a night of non-stop Death and Black Metal, I found it a bit refreshing—but not all Metalheads are going to be open-minded enough to appreciate this (admittedly, there was stuff on here that even I couldn’t stomach). Chances are, though, if you’re a Victory Records fan, or own a lot of Trustkill product, you’ll want to give this a chance (at least download “Rats In The Prison”). Otherwise, avoid like marriage and children, and check out the new Behemoth.
Track Listing

1.The Memento
2.Betrayal
3.Organs
4.Our Commitment’s A Sickness
5.The Distance From The Bottom
6.The Lines We Cross
7.Mirrors And Cameras
8.Sirens
9.To Have Loved
10.Ash
11.Rats In The Prison

Lineup

Chris Gray – Vocals
Kyle Bishop – Guitar/Vocals
Derek Petrella - Drums
Mike De Eyre – Bass/Keyboards
Alan Nacinovic - Guitar

Other reviews

» Lead Us To Reason
by Gabriel C. Zolman


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