(We present Wil Cifer’s review of the new album by NY’s Black Table.)
This band from New York have spawned a dark hybrid of metal sub-genres that stands out from all the run-of-the-mill blackened this or that flooding my in-box. Black metal might be the intersection where most of these sounds meet, despite using only occasional blast-beats that come when the band are at their most raging.
Thanks to producer Billy Anderson this album sounds great, with the production complementing the depth of Black Table’s dynamics. The arrangements get murkier going into the song “Helm”, and with the more melodic riffs providing a path to follow as they wander into more of a jammed section. When this occurs it feels more like sludge at this point than black metal.
The guitar work going into “Shadow” reminds me of one of the calm-before-the-storm lead-in’s that Metallica made famous and were later imitated by tons of thrash bands in the ’90s. The drumming on this album is also noteworthy, as it is filled with nuance even as it hits you with a thundering storm.
One of the things that makes this album stand out are the tortured pig-squeal vocals. They are typically layered against a lower growl. Pig squeals are nothing new in extreme music, but they are implemented here in a manner that carries a more convincing anguish than the bulk of growls littering the hundreds of death metal albums I’ve sorted through this year. It might not be everyone’s taste, but I appreciate the inhuman quality it adds.
The dark pulse of melody that makes this album unique continues to flow through “Gargantua”. There are some post-rock elements at the crossroads where atmosphere and emotion meet during the song in a very convincing manner.
The band drop down into a more doom-like simmer going into “Cromagnon”. The vocals become more whispered, and the song drips out of the corners of shadow to slowly congeal. Moving at a more deliberate pound like this, the band find new power in this more emotive assault. It also makes it more effective when they do speed up into a blasty section.
Black Table build the tension while hammering you with a mean fucking riff on “Homo Ergaster”, only to back down and ride the bass line. They get things as sonically heavy as it is in heavy metal with a coat of darkness draping it, so all the bases are covered here. They also cover way more ground in one song than half of the bands that drag things out for fifteen droning minutes.
This is one of the more impressive metal releases I have stumbled across in my in-box. I went into this with few expectations and was happily surprised. While they are not black metal in the strictest cvlt definition of the term, they do create a wonderful sense of woe that fans of the genre will appreciate being allowed to wallow in.
Obelisk was produced by Billy Anderson and Black Table, recorded at Backroom Studios in New Jersey by Billy Anderson, and mastered by Colin Marston at Menegroth The Thousand Caves Recording Studios. The striking artwork is by Eric Lacombe.