Artist: Black Tongue
Album: The Unconquerable Dark
From earth’s deepest chasms, it crawls forth—at first subtly, but as it gains confidence, such does it gain speed and aggression. It gathers in pools and puddles before forming lakes and seas of tangible darkness. Before much longer, it takes shape, content no longer with resting on the ground as collections of residue: it soars skybox do, blocking out the sun and winding, menacingly like a tornado turned on its side, a spire—and then it strikes. It plunges into the eyes, ears and mouths of every man, woman and child, possessing them and blackening their souls. It cannot be stopped, slowed or cast asunder. It is The Unconquerable Dark. The debut full-length release by the band whose 2013 debut redefined heaviness as we know it, The Unconquerable Dark sees Black Tongue changing styles—without changing speeds—to smother every ounce of happiness and joy the listener knows. Combining atmospheric, dissonant doom metal with conventional-yet-crushing downtempo deathcore and beatdown, Black Tongue have returned as downtempo’s prodigal son to once more invigorate a style of music stuck in a state of creative decay.
Black Tongue are synonymous with slow, crushing aggression—and at The Unconquerable Dark’s core, that fact remains unchanged. However, Black Tongue has taken their snail’s pace brutality and added flair in the form of varied metallic influences, incorporating haunting riffs, devilish grooves and speedy bouts of percussion to catch the listener off guard. Let’s be honest—the last time we heard drummer Aaron Kitcher lay down a blast beat was most likely on The Palpable Leprosy of Pollution—but that changes with “L’Appel du Vide.” Just one example of Kitcher’s energetic percussion, “L’Appel du Vide” opens with a lacerating salvo of skin-shredding blasts that set a new pace for Hull City’s heaviest—a pace seen elsewhere throughout the record, especially on “Vermintide” and the bouncy, bold patterns throughout “Prince of Ash.” Moments where Kitcher’s fleet kick drum and quick snare snaps dominate give guitarists Eddie Pickard and James Harrison an opportunity to stray outside of their comfort zone defined by ringing dissonant chords and skull-smashing chugs. The Unconquerable Dark is rife with moments where the duo relinquish their standard fare of fury and fearsome heaviness to channel evil in new and thoroughly relentless manner. Moments like the shiver-inducing climax to “I’m So Tired of Sighing. Please Lord, Let it be Night” open Pickard and Harrison’s floodgates of haunting, harrowing dread directly into the listener’s ears—flooding their head with brutalizing blackness and crushing, dense destruction. Moments like these are held in constant contrast with the band’s tried-and-true, chug-fueled fury seen on “A Pale Procession II” and “The Masquerade” give heavy music fans a comprehensive tour de force of Black Tongue’s lobotomizing and lurid anger that will leave them bloodied and broken before the first song subsides.
With an instrumental canvas constructed from element’s blacker than a blind man’s nightmares, The Unconquerable Dark leaves no room for a half-assed vocal approach in its attempt to smother the listener with suffocating darkness. Fortunately for Black Tongue, their prominent frontman, AlexTeyen isn’t known for half-adding anything, let alone his vocal performance. Here, Teyen shines so brightly his previous successes look nerdy mediocre. Still technically perfect, Teyen has refined his ability to express emotion and anguish with his grisly growls and harsh yells one-hundred fold. “Prince of Ash” sees him channeling depression and social anxiety to a tee, connecting with the listener just as effectively as he dominates the song’s challenging vocal patterns. “Vermintide” is another anthemic track highlighting Teyen’s diversity—especially as he soars alongside Suicide Silence’s Eddie Hermida. Teyen is a true terror behind the microphone, crushing the listener with visceral, unique shouts that rain down upon the listener like droplets of acid, relentless in their attack.
The Unconquerable Dark is more than just a sinister album title—it is the truest description of Black Tongue’s sound in both content and style. The Unconquerable Dark is what happens when the creatures that go “bump” in the night mature and manifest themselves as monsters with an unquenchable thirst for blood. This horrifying quartet from the depths of Hull know neither relent nor remorse, stampeding throughout the listener’s head like a horde of crazed rhinos. From the catchy refrain to “Plague Worship,” throughout the eviscerating climax to “In the Wake ov Wolf” and all the way to the pagan hymns that close “I’m So Tired of Sighing…,” The Unconquerable Dark is the sound of Black Tongue reinventing themselves and heaviness as we know it in the process, infusing infamously heavy downtempo deathcore with doom and black metallic influences to truly live up to their self appointed “doomcore” label.
Engulfing the globe, darkness reigns. Every pair of eyes once colorful are now lifeless shades of grey—heads are filled with self-loathing, hatred and despair. Such is the state of the heavy music community once The Conquerable Dark has run its course. Black Tongue have done again what they’ve already accomplished once, adding even more weight to the term “heavy” than one would even think possible.
For Fans Of: Admiral Angry, Traitors, The Last Ten Seconds of Life, Rotting Christ
By: Connor Welsh