Black Death - Black Death (2017 Reissue) (CD)
Highly sought after by collectors, not only is BLACK DEATH a crucial piece in the rich history of Cleveland heavy metal, its original 1984 release marks the first full-length by an all-African-American heavy metal band. More than that, with the band's origins dating back to 1977, BLACK DEATH are largely known to be the first African-American metal band. But most of all, BLACK DEATH's lone album is a classic of raw 'n' wild heavy metal with a thirst for the epic and dramatic.
BLACK DEATH's original lineup consisted of Siki Spacek on lead vocals and lead guitar, Phillip Bullard on drums and percussion, bassist Daryl Harris, and guitarist Gregg Hicks. "This was the original, classic lineup of the band," says Spacek. "I met these guys waaaaaay back in 1977 while I was in the 11th grade, on the exact same day that I was expelled from school. At this point in time, I had already decided that music was the direction that I wanted to take my life in, and heavy metal was the perfect way to accomplish this goal."
Indeed, across the original version of Black Death - which consisted of a seven-song main LP and then a two-song 7", both of which HELLS HEADBANGERS will reproduce down to the same detail, including the band logo as originally envisioned by Spacek - the four maniacs of BLACK DEATH create a towering work of true metal magick. The production is almost punkish, emitting a blown-out and garagey atmosphere, but this ably benefits this maniacal playing across the collective nine songs. Energy and electricity explode from every note, passion writ large across each time-evaporating minute; every player is giving it his all and going for the throat, finding that elusive balance between the barbaric and virtuosic. The songs themselves possess the swagger of red-blooded rock 'n' roll, but are generously daubed in the darkness and mystery of aeons-old metal. Imagine, if you will, JUDAS PRIEST's Sad Wings of Destiny boosted with an OTT meanness or if CIRITH UNGOL were punks but indulged their THIN LIZZY tendencies more. Truly, BLACK DEATH is that awesome and awe-inspiring.
"I always wanted to create the ultimate HEAVY METAL band," Spacek states humbly, "a band that was able to cover the broad spectrum of the emotional realms of music that other artists like Jimi Hendrix, BLACK SABBATH, PINK FLOYD, and LED ZEPPELIN had done but individually within their own respective bands; I wanted to create a heavy metal band that would have the best qualities of each these bands. I also had a visual look in mind of black leather and spandex with chains and studs, projecting a strong image befitting the band that I had in mind."
As for the oft-discussed issue of race, "Being an all-dark American heavy metal band was not a preconceived idea by any of us," Spacek says. "It was something that just happened to turn out that way. To us, and especially to me, we were a heavy metal band PERIOD. A coloring book is a coloring book no matter what different colors are used inside of them."
Available on CD for the first time ever. "I have been asked how I feel about the upcoming reissue of the very first BLACK DEATH album," Spacek concludes. "There are a variety of emotions that I have, but the most important one is of relief - FINALLY! Not only will the congregations of heavy metal be able to have personal access to it, but I can finally get my own copy of the damn thing - hahaha!
Night of the Living Dead
When Tears Run Red (From Love Lost Yesterday)
Fear No Evil
The Scream of the Iron Messiah
Here Comes the Wrecking Crew
For a good musical reference, take JUDAS PRIEST's "Killing Machine", add some VENOM-dirt and tune it all the way down to PENTAGRAM-heaviness on songs like "Night of the living death", "Fear No Evil" and the 9 minute bulldozer "Black Death". Then there's the furious, galloping Power Metal-tornado of "The scream of the Iron Messiah", their absolute highlight, a song that 20 years after it's release has become something of an underground classic. No mix-tape/cdr will be complete without this facepounding monster. The epic opening 2 minutes to "Streetwalker" is really impressive as well. I used to be quite let down by the way song then turned into a more generic hardrocker, but it has grown on me with every listening. "Here comes the wrecking crew" is their most classic and upbeat rocker, but it's still heavy as lead, kinda like MOTÖRHEAD at half speed. Finally on "Retribution" they return to the kind of galloping Power Metal they displayed on "The Scream.." but with a slightly more restrained (well, relatively..) and epic feel not too far away from early MANOWAR. - The Corroseum 5/5
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