The American Black Lung - Sudden Departure of Vultures
Record Label: Uprising Records
Release Date: July 10, 2007
A quick visit to their MySpace page will tell you everything you need to know about The American Black Lung. A product of Tucson, Arizona’s lively music scene, they list their genres as “Rock / Rock / Rock.” They go by nicknames such as Dhusty Rhoads, Johnny Detroit and Diamond Rhino. They list as influences everything from Norma Jean and The Jonbenet (immediately apparent) to The Who and Soundgarden (not so apparent). You pretty much know what you’re getting into with this band – such predictability is not a good thing, however.
But what they may lack in subtlety, The American Black Lung more than makes up for in sheer aggro force. The band’s second album, Sudden Departure of Vultures is fast, angry, and abrupt – clocking in at less than 24 minutes. And while it may be a fairly typical entry into the post-punk/hardcore arena, is nevertheless rife with violent energy and tight, compact jams.
The backbone of the record is drummer W. Moon’s stark, aggressive drumming – a fact that is immediately apparent on the first track, “Behold the Mighty Galactus.” His sound is stripped down, raw, and to the point. That principle permeates the song – and the album as a whole – creating a sound that is slightly grating, yet almost endearing for it. The sound is painfully direct, but doesn’t hide behind generic over-production like so many bands do.
Songs like “Cufflinks” and “They Wept as they Drowned” show off the impressive shredding skills of guitarists Johnny Detroit and Easy E. The songs combine pop-punkish hooks with heavier, sludgier riffs, revealing a distinct Black Sabbath influence. Sudden Departure of Vultures is chock-full hard-hitting riffs and short-but sweet solos.
The weakness of the band as a whole, however, is embodied in singer Diamond Rhino. Top-5 Worst Pseudonym in Music-status aside, Mr. Rhino has absolutely zero range. None – and the same thing can be said for the band itself. Rhino delivers each verse and chorus in a series of haphazard barks and screams, which is grating in an entirely non-endearing way. Perhaps hardcore fans of the genre (pun? – yes) will be able to look past this, but the casual listener will be immediately turned off.
This lack of range is indicative of the record as a whole – each song is a two-three minute exercise in musical nihilism. What could be some interesting guitar work never progresses past garage band level, and the bass is constantly lost among the crunch of the guitars and the percussive crash of the drums. The band offers almost nothing lyrically – songs like “They Wept as they Drowned” and “At His Best He Was a Lonely Heart” come as advertised.
While there aren’t really any subtleties to come to appreciate after multiple listens, Sudden Departure of Vultures is nevertheless somewhat appealing on a surface level – as that is all it ever really offers. The lack of polish is refreshing, and I can think of worse records to listen to after a bad day at work or school, when you just want to let loose without thinking too much. That’s a backhanded compliment, yes, but a compliment nonetheless.
"Songs like “Cufflinks” and “They Wept as they Drowned” show off the impressive shredding skills of guitarists Johnny Detroit and Easy E"
"What could be some interesting guitar work never progresses past garage band level"
One out of every five myspace bands say they are influenced by some band that they are clearly not. Also, you gotta love how everyone lists their genre as "Rock" or "Experimental" when nothing about their music is.