By TEMPLE A. STARK, Casa Grande, Arizona. RSS FEED
Power to the people. Rise up against conformity. Fight Against The Man.
That’s the muzak message I get from the cover art of the four-member Pitch Black’s “This is the Modern Sound.” (Revelation Records). Despite the auspicious cheesy cliches evoked by the raised fists behind barbed wire motif, the band does better.
Expectations of growling death metal aside, these guys are impure melodic punk. The music gives off an aura of intelligence – hard to explain that one – as if you could sit down and enjoy long conversations about anything with these guys.
Just like the first song “Tonopah” – at least the sound, if not the subject – they would probably step up and talk to a stranger with a “Are we not men?” attitude – laughing, casual, and an undercurrent of intensity. But it’s too early in the meeting and they’re not too sure if you’re ready for it so they hold back.
Toponah refers to mining interests in Nevada, Arizona and New Jersey among others; most famously known for its Nevada operations which main-lined silver lode for more than 50 years. Another song is “Mine Shafts and the Laws of Gravity” which brings strong imagery of surviving a life often without the benefit of a warning canary: “Around here the kids don’t grow too old / The mines were black and gold / And every day breaks on the graves / Way down in those holes / Like the ghosts of those that no one knows
Mining seems to be a theme -which probably means they’re all claustrophobic.
“Lovelock,” an “us against the world” anthem, and the call to arms of “Toothcutting” both strike the right chord of finding a bright (black) light in a swirling, overwhelming set of circumstances – like Dorothy’s cabin coming down after the tornado and crunching bone.
Having bought a few rounds and enjoying the conversation the band – your new mates – stay relaxed, get drunk and don’t fall down. But they start to air some grievances.
And so we have “Executives and Art Directors,” hands down the best song on the group’s second album, a follow up to their 2003 eponymously titled debut.
It achieves the status of a moral modern fable of a reason for murder and revenge. Although maybe you had to be there. Did I mention it was lighthearted? ::: “They don’t hear the words, the music / It makes this town seem so useless / They’re spineless / They’re cowards / Because they know we’re too dangerous // Misery loves company / I guess that’s why they’ve more friends than me / They don’t sleep so they don’t dream / And every day is the same routine
Kinda ironic considering my less than enthusiastic immediate reaction to the cover, dontcha think?
The result is this album, an incapsulation of Newton’s Third Law of Motion. In this case the reaction is measured and melodic rather than mindless.
There may be a lot of underlying ideas here, but I don’t know the band enough to know for sure. Another score for new music – you either like it or you don’t and are free to infuse the music with what you want it to be.
For 37 minutes, 11 songs and two musical interludes it’s good stuff.
Kevin Cross: “Guitars, Propaganda, Vocals
Jeremy Goody: Keyboards
Jamie Morrison: Drums
Martin Munroe: Bass
3 The Veracity Of Baggage
5 Sutured Heart
6 Plastic Eyes
7 Mine Shafts And The Laws Of Gravity
8 Maze Of One Ways
9 The Screaming Song
10 The Monkey Song
11 Executives And Art Directors