Released: 2014, Self Released
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
The Black Rook is a 2-man traditional/power metal outfit from lovely Rio de Janeiro currently supporting their self-released, self-titled debut. The 10 tracks on the album should appeal to the hardcore horns up denim n’ leather crowd, but some clichés and self-imposed execution choices will limit the appeal beyond that.
First the good – for a self released album, THE BLACK ROOK sounds fantastic sonically, any of you aspiring bedroom recording artists should take notice. Vocalist Flavio Senra has a powerful delivery that’s suited well for this brand of metal, and Rubens Lessa has built a body of reliable tunes with plenty of dynamic qualities in the arrangements. The opening “Checkmate” absolutely rips, and as cynical as I am about any band in 2014 naming a track “Heart of Steel”, said tune has some quality interludes.
The not as good – Senra is on vocal overdrive for much of the album, almost laughably so in places (lookin’ at you “Madman in Chains”). Sometimes he’s right on the mark with his high notes, sometimes just a little to the left, but enough to make you take notice. And for as hefty as the core tracks may be across THE BLACK ROOK, it’s painfully devoid of any real guitar solos. Lessa is doing the best he can with what he’s got to work with, but building up to a face melting payoff without any actual payoff discounts some of the band’s credibility. And hefty though the core tracks may be, you've been to this dance before, and you've danced with prettier girls.
Here’s the thing though – THE BLACK ROOK may not be a perfect album, but it’s got heart. The duo who comprise The Black Rook obviously have their hearts in the right place and are doing their part to keep metal alive, and you’ve got to give them respect for that. THE BLACK ROOK isn’t going to resonate with everybody, but I’m sure there’s a few of you reading this that will consider it a gem in the rough. Check out The Black Rook’s Bandcamp page for samples and purchase info.