If your idea of a cracking album is one that has level of atmosphere and suspense akin to that of a Hitchcock movie, with the sole purpose of beautifully terrifying the listener, then you will have found your new favourite release in Black Queen’s latest chunk of horror, The Directress.
The San Francisco based four piece Black Queen are leaders in the field of combing dark, underground extreme metal with horror films to create a most macabre work of art indeed. Combining both atmospheric black, death and even chugging doom throughout, The Directress is an uncontrollable beast of a record that will have you constantly guessing what frights it’s going to throw at you next.
Black Queen have managed to achieve quite the feat with this album by keeping each track refreshing and innovative whilst still staying true to the raw and unpolished vibes of old school black and death metal. Opening song The Olde Religion for example showcases Bzzrd’s gravelly, black metal vocals brilliantly with some gnarly satanic growls punctuated by some well executed death metal riffs. There is a refreshing contrast in tempo on each track, especially on Silentium, which switches effortlessly between speedy blackened death noise to slow, crushing doom.
The Directress is without doubt an underground metal album with nothing remotely mainstream or accessible about it at all, which is what makes it such a satisfying listen. Whilst keeping the atmospheric black metal theme strong throughout, Black Queen tentatively introduce other extreme genres into their tracks to spice things up a bit. The Name of Snakes has a chaotic, almost grind feel to it whereas Forever Daggers has a groovy black metal meets rockabilly feel throughout with an infectious, boppy little rhythm to it.
It’s not just tempos and genres that are kept fresh throughout The Directress, there are points throughout the album where one could be fooled into thinking that Black Queen were trying to break the record for the most vocal styles included on a LP. There’s your stereotypical black metal satanic screeching and Akerfeldt-esque power growls right through to choir and operatic styles in certain tracks, a dramatic contrast, but one that just about works.
The Directress is a sinister, eerie and downright entertaining listen. For those who like their metal packed full of retro horror inspiration and suspense, look no further than Black Queen’s latest offering, it will be your definitive album of 2015.
(8/10 Eilish Foxen)