To those who charge that Thrash has long ago exhausted its creative boundaries, I respectfully submit Defense Exhibit A – BIBLEBLACK's “The Black Swan Epilogue.” This fine release delivers an atmospheric, melodic experience while at the same time remaining faithful to the conventions of the genre.
This is not an album that is defined by its extreme speed, its raw aggression, or its instrumental technicality, though all of these elements are present to some degree. Make no mistake, “The Black Swan Epilogue” makes its case on the strength of its composition. The use of keyboards, usually something that does not fit well in the Thrash paradigm, here is the critical factor in taking this album beyond mere convention and elevating it to something that is simultaneously brutal, atmospheric, and melodic. Opener “Leaving Shangri-La” begins with a keyboard melody made more powerful by a gunfire drum rhythm, before the riff comes in and turns this into something more angry and sinister. The inclusion of a church bell in the harmony further gives this a Gothic atmosphere.
Overall song structure is skillfully handled, as this album beautifully navigates the narrow confluence of melody and aggression, and the guitar solos are exceptional not in the dexterity required to play them, but in rather in how well they fit within the songs themselves. Indeed, the integration is such that the songs would be incomplete without the solos exactly as they are played here - any alteration and the song itself would crumble like a sandcastle in the surf.
The band's attention to detail is impressive. There is no formula here – not in the songwriting, nor in the performances, the arrangements, or in the production. Each song is its own entity, and has been treated by the band as such.
BIBLEBLACK have done what some have claimed to be impossible – they have created a Thrash album that is full of fresh ideas. This is not mere worship of a sound that was pioneered and thoroughly explored twenty years ago. The band have explored new territory, and have hopefully given new relevance to a venerable sub-genre.
(Online December 24, 2009)