The Black League
After two consecutive weeks of intensive spins, my feelings on the Black League’s Ichor debut are far from being rectified, not necessarily leaving this writer disappointed in as much as it fails to satiate, to deliver that life-damning knockout blow. On the one hand, Ichor (Greek for “blood of the gods”) marks the much-ballyhooed — and for good reason — return of former Sentenced vocalist/bassist Taneli Jarva, on hand for that band’s glory years (1993’s North From Here and 1994’s Amok) and majorly missing in action since their Love and Death EP from ’95; go figure, Sentenced have slowly and painfully gone down the shitter since. As if five years haven’t passed without his grumpy muse, Jarva’s roar remains just as impassioned as ever, imbuing the album with that world-weary flair that made Amok such, uh, “fun,” Ichor‘s mid-tempo metallic romp n’ stomp similarly on par with that album, fleshed out by robust leads from the guitar tandem of Alexi Ranta and Maike Valanne and song-intensive drumming from former Impaled Nazarener Sir Luttinen. But on the other hand, Ichor clocks in at an hour, perhaps 15 minutes too long, perhaps a few leagues more solid if a couple tracks were nixed and a handful of choruses were kept to the bare minimum of memorability (as opposed to the bare maximum of bombast), perhaps a bit too close to the demons he was last chasing in Sentenced. Granted, Jarva’s scope has always sought the grand and epic end of things, and no one can argue that his ambition never leaves a punter salivating at the prospects of new output, but for the time being, Ichor stands bleakly tall yet arbitrarily flawed — you betcha, their next opus should certainly deliver the goods. Nonetheless, welcome back, ya sad bastard.
Nuclear Blast America, P.O. Box 43618, Philadelphia, PA 19106; http://www.nuclearblast-usa.com