Black Sulfur is a hard rock band from South Africa (Richard La Grange – Vocals, Jonathan Kelly – Guitars) and England (James Chapman – Drums).The band is now releasing its 11-track album, entitled “Leech”. This is what I would typically call an album for the fans. It doesn’t let up until the very last song, and only then are you allowed to catch your breath. The entire “Leech” album is so full of chunky, groovy, guitar riffs that it’s disgusting. Every song offers up a riff that elicits even the most stubborn people to bob their head in tune. The drums hit hard, the bass lines are heavy, and La Grange’s voice sounds great.
From the opening track, “Blind Pig”, you know that this album is going to be blistering. As for the rest of the album, pick a song and it’ll be a standout. The title track “Leech” and “Never Take Me Alive” has to be among my absolute favorites though. They are incredibly heavy and see the band, as a whole, playing some of their most focused, driving, and forceful beats on this collection.
“Judgement Day” and “My Last Trip” are two very riff-oriented songs that absolutely crush when played on a good system. If you really need to catch your breath then stop over at the power ballads “Never Be Alone” and “We Are One”. In between, you’ll discover the groove of “Rock Is Dead” and “Divide Us”.
Black Sulfur is a rare breed. Coming up during one of the most stagnant and banal eras in hard rock, the trio has somehow defied the odds by writing catchy melodic tunes, but somehow maintaining a serious rock integrity at the same time. A mere eleven tracks deep, “Leech” is mean and lean.
The sound is unmistakably hard rock; the vocals that alternate between hushed and harsh, the catchy drum-patterns and the meaty riffs that already sound like a trademark of the outfit are all intact. But even more so, many songs find the band progressing without losing an ounce of their identity.
The trio comes into their own embracing a myriad of rock tendencies. Technical proficiency and a firm grasp of melody can be a highly potent combination and the guys are more than up to the task.
While some people may lump Black Sulfur into the same group as Trapt, Seether (another South African band), Breaking Benjamin etc, I feel that they surpass these commercial rock acts in originality and emotion.
This unit is more about band interplay than individual playing: James Chapman’s exact and meticulous drumming; Richard La Grange’s gritty, melodic voice; Jonathan Kelly’s scratching guitar sounds, silent nuance, or earsplitting power chords.
This recording captures all of the nuances of their music, which for the most part is able to pull you in three or four different directions during one song. Depth, layers, twisting and turning textures…this is what “Leech” is all about!
Black Sulfur are one of the most relevant, original and vital bands on planet indie right now, and this album only serves to consolidate their position as forerunners in a movement of intelligent hard rock music that can sit beside or even transcend the demands of the mainstream.
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