Firstly, you must give props, platitudes and other hyperbolic praise for ANY band that decides to name their album ‘Black Magic’. It is so on the nose for anything even vaguely smelling of rock in any shape, way of form, that you would have to have balls the size of cannonballs to pull it off so to speak. And that is the question really isn’t? This second album by Norwegian rockers Souls of Tide has all the talk in terms of its moniker…BUT does it have the proverbial walk (are you talking to me?) to accompany it?
We will get to that.
One of the things I love most of all when it comes to the music we collective love in the metal community is it’s diverse and ever shifting paradigms of what’s metal, what’s black metal, hardcore, thrash, black metal, rock, screamo, post metal and on and on and on. It spirals and eats it’s on tail and then regurgitates itself into a new form and onto the next. I love that. I struggle to see any other genre of music, that contrives itself into so many different forms. BUT if you look at the dictionary definition of music, it comes back with this ‘vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion’. Key word there is beauty and what a word that is. Can you imagine a more perfect word to describe the goose bumps you have when a certain drum fill passes through your head, or a guitar riff that touches your soul, or a vocal melody caresses your nether regions in a warm embrace. It’s such an emotional experience and metal/rock manages to do this to me on an hourly basis…everyday…lucky me.
So, in the interests of keeping this a review rather than a scientific exploration into music itself, onto Souls of Tide. What this band are solid. Pedal to the metal, rocky blues that you may have seen at any number of dingy venues throughout the world, blending numerous influences too countless to name (Deep Purple, Cathedral, Dire Straits, Led Zeppelin, Sabbath, Cream plus a cast of thousands). It’s all monitor stomping, good rollicking fun, swathed in an epic sounding production job that belies what I can only imagine was a meagre budget but sounds like something conjured from the Butch Vig/Andy Wallace/Scott Burns class of ‘Absolutely fucking brilliantly sounding albums’ masterclass. That so much on offer here on Black Magic is derivative is fine, because it’s brilliantly played and if you’re looking for one of the many highlights on offer here, vocalist Vegar Larsen’s vocal operatics as well as depth of tone that recall the twin ghosts of Chris Cornell and Layne Stanley covered by Robert Plant are an absolute joy. The songs are groovy, slinky, powerful, bare-chested slices of 70’s infused rock, updated for the 2020’s. Its bullish without being posturing, delicate whilst being masterful.
Souls of Tide, have caught be completely off guard, listening to this after a morning of gorging on a diet of Conjurer, Botch and Cannibal Corpse. Maybe this was the perfect aural pallet cleaner. To freshen a pair of ears jaundiced by the bastard heavy mechanics of the mornings aural breakfast. More to the point, I think this has bought me back to basics with an honest blues, rock stomp that rocks like a motherfucker. If anything it has taken me back to the days before I was able to travel to Central London and attend gigs at The Marquee, Hammersmith Odeon et al, I had to content myself and my fake ID to visit The Torrington Pub in North Finchley, Barnet, North London to feast on a plethora of rock bands such as Blodwyn Pig, The Hamsters and Bad Influence, all hugely competent bands that scratched an itch in a nascent 14 year old rock fan, with the world at his feet in musical terms. Maybe nostalgia has played its part in this review but fuck it, this is great, rocking, honest fun and improves on further plays.
In summary this does not just walk the walk, it struts, full of confidence safe in the knowledge that this band have birthed an album of glorious rocking fun.
(8/10 Nick Griffiths)