Sourvein – Black Fang

Sourvein – Black Fang

Armed with the unrelenting, oppressive blanket of sound sludge/doom metalers Sourvein are known for, comes a new release dripping in uncompromising and punishing noise. Spanning ten pulsating and scathing slabs of metal, Black Fang is an all consuming hungry beast that is sure to delight existing fans of the band and other followers of the darker sludge vein of music.

Since the North Carolina band’s conception in 1993 by vocalist/guitarist T-Roy Medlin, Sourvein have been active with releases of EP’s and split albums. Black Fang (Candlelight Records) is their first full length in almost a decade since the release of Will To Mangle in 2002, and one would imagine is being eagerly anticipated. The first thing to say about this album is it delivers all that one would expect from the band: dense heavy grooves, sonically distorted riffs, and growling cursing vocals. It is fair to say Sourvein has not leap massively forward with their sound, but they still create a swamp of sludge that is very palatable.

From the opening and the title track they hit low and hard – the feedback-drenched, sonically charged slumbering pace driving deep on a collision course with the listener as the guitars of Medlin and King steer the track masterfully. Drummer Jeffrie Moen, though never overpowering, slams the rhythms home hard throughout, leading forth the beast that is Black Fang.

Of all the tracks contained within the album the particular standout ones that raise the bar are “Night Eyes”, with its crawling menacing black groove, the pace switching, suffocating grind of “Gasp” (probably the best track), and the bluesy blackness of “Nomadic”. Add the experimental feel of the closing track “Nocturnal/Negative Phaze” and there alone is a quartet of songs to make the challenge of listening to Black Fang worthwhile.

These great moments are tempered by solid, but regular and almost predictable pieces of formulaic sludge/doom metal such as “Flux”, “Society’s Blood”, and “Holy Transfusion”. The songs are strong, perfectly realised and delivered, but basically they simply create an all too familiar wall of noise as they flow and merge when heard side by side.

Black Fang is a difficult album to judge because it gives everything fans could want: ponderous, dirty sludge filled riffs, harsh grating vocals, and skin stripping aurally assaulting guitars and noise. The problem is that when almost everyone else in the field is producing similar music – with few giving something fresh and new to the genre – it is easy to just pass over this with a simple brief listen, which would be a shame as it does deserve attention. Sourvein is a band with undoubted skill, talent and the ability to produce some of the best senses buffering riffs and ear caressing wicked grooves but they just need to find a crisp freshness to take them to the top table of the genre.