Lovers of comic books, hamburgers, and heavy metal (me), understand that there is always something new to be done with an old formula. Do we need another Spiderman movie? Another Batman comic? Another 50s style diner? Of course not. But for me there’s always room for more, if it’s in the right hands. Certain metal bands inspire this sort of meme-like repetition, which on one hand can create some of the most boring, rehashed, unoriginal copycat bands imaginable (see Nightwish clones). However, some bands laid more breathable groundwork, allowing the bands that followed in their footsteps to add more experimental layers and create something new while still remaining in the vein of the original. Black Sabbath is one of the oldest metal bands but their first era of 70s proto-doom has inspired such a diverse mix of bands, that even today, great bands can be forged with what they left behind. Enter Black Prism.
I’m sure Black Prism is sick of being compared to Black Sabbath by now, but I have to do my duty. THEY SOUND LIKE BLACK SABBATH. There. But there’s more to them than simple being a Sabbath clone. What separates Black Prism is their efficiency and relative simplicity. This LA four-piece has updated Sabbath’s sound by using moments that most bands would use for some guitar wankery for more excellent, driving riffs. Black Prism also places an emphasis on catchy hooks, sort of like a NWOBHM band playing really loud a mile away while you’re still half-tripping. Like other modern doom metallers such as Pallbearer or Asteroid, Black Prism understands that clean melody and hooks have their place in doom metal along with grit and weirdness. This is one reason why I think they sound more authentically vintage. They keep it simple. You won’t find any moments of overt aggression or try-hard psychedelia influences in these songs. Black Prism doesn’t need any tricks to achieve its perfect atmosphere. Like Uncle Acid, the menace of the music is always right below the surface, never quite reaching you. The production also keeps this record more straight-forward. The guitar and bass never reach Sleep or Electric Wizard levels of distortion opting instead of a nice, warm overdrive that allows the bass to be heard and the guitars to still shimmer on the top end. The drummer keeps the songs driving forward, which, together with the great hooks, sort of reminded me of Mastodon’s more recent output, oddly enough. Finally, my favorite part of Black Prism: the vocalist. The vocals glue every song together and just float on top of the mix in all their reverby glory. An Ozzy-imitator by anyone’s standard, but if you listen closely, at the top of his range, you can hear his voice give out just a little bit and flutter, sending you instantly to memories Robert Plant’s 70’s pipes.
This record is awesome and you should spend money on it: