Pittsburgh’s Slaves BC push into personal darkness, blackened sounds on ‘Lo, and I Am Burning’

There’s no question we live in dark times. Yeah, we joke around here a whole lot about Armageddon being right around the corner, but we all know we’re meant to suffer well into the future, with those in power dangling the carrot of fortune and comfort in front of our faces. It’s an easy era in which to be depressed or despondent, and that’s not to be taken lightly or in jest.

That has carried over onto Slaves BC’s second record “Lo, and I am Burning,” a nine-track assault that finds the band’s sound spilling more into death and black metal terrains than ever before. The follow-up to Biblically inspired “All Is Dust and I Am Nothing” drags the Pittsburgh-based band away from its more hardcore- and sludge-molded past and into heavy darkness, both musically and lyrically. Here, the band focuses on depression, suicide, loss, fracturing faith, and the current political climate in the United States that, no matter which side you’re on, is chaotic. It’s hard to even breathe sometimes, and as any sufferer of anxiety can attest, there are moments where it feels like a million pounds are weighing down your chest. The band—vocalist/drummer/lyricist Josh Thieler, guitarist Sean Singer, guitarist/bassist Brandon Siple—is a fixture in the Pittsburgh metal scene. Basically, if you’ve never seen them before, then you really haven’t been to many shows. They are a force live, and their sound always was more on the metallic side, so this new record feels pretty natural.

“Lo” begins with noise buzzing, as riffs open, and a Deathspell Omega-style stormfront lands and dizzies. The vocals shred, while the melodies bring delirium, and then we’re into their trademark sludge before heading toward “We Are All God’s Fault” and its guitar work that causes fits. The vocals devastate, while muddy punishment is applied, and raw power pushes through. The drums pelt your senses, as Theiler barks through the chaos, and then “Lightbearer” emerges, bringing with it a frenetic pace. The vocals strangle, while the song attacks, and then the devastation manages to get even heavier, as the songs pounds away, and everything drowns in noise. “Glory” runs just 46 seconds, but along the way they deliver gory madness and a channeled strike that can bury cities.

“XLV” is tempered at first before the track rips its guts from its belly, and a black metal-style tidal wave overwhelms. The growls are vicious, and the punishment is savage, pushing right into “I Looked Upon the Face of God and My Body Turned to Ash” that’s lightning fast from the start. There’s a mix of black metal and hardcore influences in this muck, as the track hits the gas pedal with fervor, and we’re back to bludgeoning before the song fades. “Honor Thy Father and Mother” also has speed as the guitars go off before the tempo is pulled back. Trudging crushing merges with noise, and the assault later heads into traumatic terror that unleashes ugliness and a finish that’s horrifying. “When Her Prayers Are Silenced” has off-kilter guitars, vocals that shred, and an aura that feels more like post-hardcore. Later the sun sets on that, as the band enters a death crawl, sending seismic waves before fading into 7:30 closer “Unclean.” The music is slow driving at first before rivers of lava emerge and burn things to a crisp. The song wails away, as the growls attempt to draw blood, and sound clouds spit thunder. The drums rupture blood vessels, while the sounds build and deliver a fiery crescendo.

Many of us are struggling, and sometimes each new day is like getting back up only to be punched in the face again. “Lo, and I Am Burning” captures that struggle, the metal turmoil that makes it seem like things never will be OK again. They will, even though that feels like a hopeless cause sometimes, and perhaps this music can help be a reassuring reminder that you’re not alone.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SlavesBC

To buy the album, go here: https://www.fearandthevoid.com/shop

For more on the label, go here: https://www.fearandthevoid.com/

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