Long have we kept open minds here at Meat Mead Metal, and there have been numerous instances where we brought you something that didn’t exactly scream “metal!” on the surface but certainly could connect with members of our readership who also have wide-open intellectual borders. Today, we have another.
I got an e-mail about Pinkish Black from Handmade Birds’ R. Loren several weeks back, and to say the sentiment behind the message was unbridled enthusiasm would be a bit of an understatement. So, knowing what I know about the type of music the label releases, I dug in right away and was blown off my ass by what I heard. I have developed an affinity for early New Wave music courtesy of my wife, and I’ve always had a soft spot for deathrock and dreary doom rock that go perfectly with an overcast rainy day. Pinkish Black have all of that, but they contain something else: a sinister underbelly. There is a mopeyness to what they do — and I mean that as a big compliment — but also a threat that dark feelings may turn bloody. They’re a ticking time bomb filled with nails.
Now, having the full record at my disposal, I was able to go even deeper into this murk, and what I found was a synthy, noisy, potentially violent document that could trouble the emotionally turbulent among us. I don’t get the sense these songs came from a particularly sunny frame of mind. Quite the opposite, actually. And what I discovered on this self-titled album is that this Denton, Texas, duo may have created this music to achieve some kind of catharsis or mental breakthrough, because it sure seems to be a lot of personal laundry on the clothesline.
Actually, their history is pretty gnarly and savage to say the least. The band started as a trio called The Great Tyrant, made up of Daron Beck (Pointy Shoe Factory), Jon Teague (Yeti), and Tommy Atkins. That all came to a screaming halt when Beck and Teague found Atkins dead by suicide in a bathroom, with the walls taking on a pinkish black appearance. That tragedy not only gave name to their musical evolution away from the Great Tyrant but pushed them down a more convulsive, destructive path. How could anyone blame them?
As noted, synth plays a large role in these songs, and that gives the compositions a cosmic darkness that sticks around as a recurring theme. Nods can be made to decidedly non-metal artists such as Suicide, the Cure, Scott Walker, Joy Division, and — this could just be me hearing something weird — the Smiths, but you also can find some of your more metallic leanings with comparisons to Khanate (the album was mastered by James Plotkin), Fantomas, and YOB. Even tossing those names out there doesn’t completely capture what these guys do, and those should be considered very loose associations. But we need some starting points, right? So there they are.
The record opens with “Bodies in Tow,” a song that’s already got some play on the Internets to some acclaim, and rightfully so as the reigning space keys and buzzing melody give off a feeling of nighttime cool and medicine head panic combined. “Everything Went Dark” opens with a do-wop sample and spills into a swirling song that’s one of the shortest on here and one of the most effective. “Passerby” has the New Wave tones and some ghostly vocals, and the bulk of the piece is dark and haunting. Then the whole record changes.
“Fall Down” is the start of the proceedings getting more sinister. There’s a threatening doom fog, pounding, and menacing intent, even as Beck’s vocals take on a soulfulness that should be soothing but is instead scary. “Tell Her I’m Dead” has its bottom drop out from the start, as harsh noise, key zaps, and wild shrieks make the song the most harrowing and metallic of the whole album. “Tastes Like Blood” may have you letting down your guard with its quiet, trickling pace, but it runs headlong into the volcanic closer “Against the Door,” where their audio sickness and UFO-like keys penetrate and spread their way to your insides, making you go cold. If you feel the urge to immediately go back and experience the whole thing again, you’re not alone. I, for one, couldn’t step away.
Pinkish Black certainly are not the heaviest band in the world from a decibel standpoint, but psychologically and emotionally, they may be untouchable. These Denton veterans obviously have seen some crazy shit and aren’t comfortable with expressing themselves in a conventional manner. Good. That makes for an exciting, compelling record that might make you run for a safe place, but will haunt you even there. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pinkish-Black/138248106193659
To buy the album, go here: http://www.handmadebirds.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.handmadebirds.com/