There’s cult.. and then there’s true cult. Besides the otherwise disparate likes of Kip Winger and Cephalic Carnage, Denver Colorado ain’t exactly known for heavy music… but Denver natives Black Lung have been plying their trade of viciously dark hardcore punk for over two decades.
Forming in 1989, the band recorded a couple of demo tapes containing covers of G.G. Allin and Hard Ons songs (an early incarnation featured Lenzig Leal from Cephalic Carnage on bass) before unleashing ‘Black Lung Bleeds the Greed’ in 1992. Only available on cassette tape, ‘…Bleeds The Greed’ sold in excess of 20,000 copies worldwide (and this was in the days before the internet and “going viral” were even things) which was a mightily impressive effort.
On the strength of this debut, the band continued throughout the ’90s and their efforts culminated in the 2003 recording & release of the ‘System Shutdown’ 7″ and a split CD with Eviscerated Soul. This laid the foundation for their first and only tour of the US, which, (as you can imagine after 14 years) was rapturously received.
At the time of writing the band hold the global number one spot on the Reverb Nation charts for punk, and lemme tell you, you don’t get to that spot without some serious dedication and a super-loyal legion of fans. It’s a testament to the hard work the band has put in over the years. Not only that, but they have a new album “We Sold Our Souls To Satan’. Whether they actually did or not isn’t for me to say, but I CAN tell you all about the music!
This isn’t music for the feint of heart. If hardcore punk, black metal and grindcore are your bag, you’re gonna love this record. Filthily distorted and magnificently ugly, the songs have a weight and inertia very few records possess. The overall mood is one of grandiose perversity. Violently twisted rhythms propel the songs forward at an ungodly speed whilst aptly named vocalist Julian Vomit spews bile and hatred over the arrangements. The song structures themselves are not complex, and the production is raw, but this simply adds to the frightening mood, giving the impression that the album was recorded in the dank catacombs of some unholy cathedral. (And for all I know it was!)
The band has added some elements of death metal on this record, but unlike a lot of death metal releases, it doesn’t get bogged down or sludgy. The record is still pervaded by a stripped back, pared down punk sound. The riffs and rhythms have more in common with DRI or Cryptic Slaughter than any death metal act. With the added dimensions of Julian’s screams and the eerie bells, tornados and other infernal sound effects the end result is a little like early Venom, only more vicious.
You can probably guess by the album’s title what the subject matter is, but what you won’t guess is the pointed political and social commentary contained within. This is not merely Satanic metal, this is music with a social conscience. Samples of US political speeches hint at a mood of despair at broken promises, particularly in the outro to the opening track “Thief Murder”.
Don’t get me wrong, if the prog heroics of Dream Theater or Tesseract are your bag then move along, but if hardcore punk, black metal and early thrash are what flicks your switch and you have a fascination with the darker side of humanity then ‘We Sold Our Souls To Satan’ is definitely for you.
Here’s what the band & mastermind Julian Vomit have done brilliantly. They have remained fiercely underground despite their huge following, they have no Wikipedia page and their releases are not easy to come across. Preferring to stream content to those who seek it out, the band maintain an integrity not often seen in the music industry, no matter what the genre. Preserving a dedicated subculture in this digital age where numbers are everything is not only brave, it’s altruistic. The band exist for their fans and like minded artists and this can only be commended.
Like I said… there’s cult, and there’s TRUE cult.
Check out Black Lung on ReverbNation! http://www.reverbnation.com/satanicpunkrocklegendsblacklung