Dec 012021


Austin-based BLK OPS haven’t been prolific. Until now, following their formation in 2014, their discography consisted of a pair of 2017 splits (with Cave Bastard and KRVSHR) and a live album released just at the start of the pandemic in 2020. But though their output has been limited, their abrasive but cathartic amalgamation of hardcore, metal, and harsh noise has made a crater-sized impact, harrowing to hear but impossible to forget. And now, at last, we have their debut album, The Heroic Dose.

From what we hear, getting the album to the point of release — which will happen via Roman Numeral Records on December 3rd — has itself been a harrowing and frustrating ordeal. But the considerable time that BLK OPS spent working and re-working the record, that time shows itself in the outcome. The Heroic Dose builds upon all the qualities that made BLK OPS‘ splits so striking, and creates an even more daunting, elaborate, and demanding edifice of sound, which you’ll get to experience in its entirety today.


The first thing you’ll hear is the strange collage of flaring and skittering electronic tones and distorted vocals that make up the start of opening track “Exoskeleton”, followed by walloping drums, turbulent bass machinations, slashing, jittering, and whining guitars, and scorching vocal vitriol. It’s an infliction of both severe body blows and mentally discombobulating discomfort, something like the combination of an earthquake and undergoing a root canal without anesthesia but with hallucinogens instead.

From there BLK OPS continue to combine knee-capping thuggery and mind-altering mental warfare. Feelings of derangement radiate from shrieking guitar delirium at the same time as the rhythm section furiously bludgeons and batters and the vocalist howls like a rabid, enraged beast relentlessly coming for your throat.

But just around the corner, when you might least expect it, they’ll throw in something like “Standing in the Unlight”, a thoroughly ominous and unnerving dose of electronics, or “Persistent Reality”, which sounds something like a theremin on steroids keeping company with howling poltergeists and muttering asylum inmates, or the haunting and hopeless reverberations of “Order From Chaos”, which unfolds like a vast and surrealistic vision of the end times across a broken and barren landscape, or the completely alien cacophony of “Finding the Axis Between Two Failures”.

The recurring combination of madness and mayhem, spine-shaking physicality and mind-mutilating strangeness, keeps a listener off-balance but firmly bound to the band’s twisted maneuvers. As discordant and unsettling as the riffing and synths often are, and as destabilizing as the band’s rhythmic changes can be, it should be said that they also do have a way of worming themselves into your head. The motifs can be bizarre and frightening, but oddly infectious as well — and sometimes even spellbinding (though the spells they create are intensely chilling).

In such songs as “Prey for Us” there’s also a feeling of terrible grandeur that rises up through the blaring chords and pavement-cracking rhythmic upheavals. That song is capable of throwing your whole body into a lurching spasm at the same time as it creates yet another ruinous vista of apocalypse, a vision amplified by vocals that sound like someone being torn apart with hot pincers.

Oh hell, even though this wasn’t intended as a track-by-track review, we can’t fail to mention “The Purest Drug”, because there Jessica Goodwin brilliantly shines with a freaked-out saxophone performance — one more way that BLK OPS choose to mess with your mind while subjecting your skull to the tender mercies of a sonic pile-driver — and the striking closer “Failed Earth – Dead Rats and Broken Glass”, whose opening brittle chords come as close to beauty (albeit a forlorn beauty) as the band get — just before they mount an explosively destructive rampage and end it with a harrowing vocal output set against a backdrop of nerve-abrading noise.



Credit goes to the following performers who participated in the creation of The Heroic Dose:

Mark Key – guitars, synth, backing vocals
Pete Murray – drums, synth, spoken word vocals
Champ Morgan – lead vocals, theremin, noise, synth
Craig Delony – synth
Jessica Goodwin – saxophone

We’re told that the album was recorded by Braxton Henry in an old church in East Austin that was converted into a studio a few years back, and that it was written over a couple of years, with some of the songs initially being part of an album that was never released. “All of the tracks were performed live during the long writing period, each having the appropriate time to marinate properly prior to recording them”.

We’re also told that lyrically, The Heroic Dose “is about societal collapse, political corruption, anti organized religion, personal transformation”.

The album was engineered and mixed by Craig Delony and mastered by James Plotkin, and completed by the gripping (and frightening) cover art of Ethan Lee McCarthy. It’s available for pre-order now from Roman Numeral.




  1. Amazing – like Pig Destroyer and Napalm Death had a loud and wonderful baby

  2. this album is a goddamn JUGGERNAUT!

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