You’ll probably have noticed, as a general rule, we’re discouraged from reviewing short albums and EPs. Agalloch‘s Faustian Echoes will forever be a pleasant thorn in my side and because of this, I regularly protest this policy. We’re led to believe that 17 minutes of music is not an album, and maybe it technically isn’t. But in truth, I’d rather have four tracks of well-edited and near-perfectly composed music than more than an hour of filler expanded to breaking point. So keeping that in mind, let me take a moment to thank Sons of a Wanted Man for their dedication to editing. It’s a dying art!
Who are Sons of a Wanted Man you ask? In short they’re a fledgling band, hailing from Beringen (Belgium). Citing the influence of Gojira, Deafheaven and Alcest, Sons of a Wanted Man dabble in introspective post-black metal, forcibly heavy sludge and raw hardcore with Black Days Black Dust claiming to journey through beauty and frenzy in equal measure.
Beginning with a corrosive and atmospheric intro that wouldn’t be out-of-place on a Caïna album, a very audible set of symbols leads you right into “Dodenleer.” Rabid vocalizations easily take center stage with high-pitched blackened screams before switching over to a more piercing and hearty growl. Instrumentally the music has a distinctly fuzzed out and sludgy approach, but it also has the beautiful transitions and melody of something akin to Ghost Brigade. The progression adopts an unhurried tempo, the mid-point of the track highlighting the sheen of the guitar-work. “Dodenleer” will leave you more contemplative than melancholic.
The songs that follow continue in the same vein as opener “Dodenleer” – similar stimulus vying for your attention, cutting through the fuzzy muck and vocal torture. Saying that the tracks have high points, is probably misleading, but low points implies a negative result, though it’s quite the opposite on Black Days Black Dust. The “high point” of “Meander,” establishes itself with a powerful While Heaven Wept-styled brightness that subtly permeates the song, followed not too long after by a somber and noticeably sparse instrumental interlude, dominating the mid-section. Beginning with an inkling of A Perfect Circle American rock effect, “Though Art Spiritless” turns in an unexpected direction, adopting a more Hexvessel-inspired atmospheric instrumental approach layered with the contrast of haunting vocalizations. The striking differences between these influences along with the remnants of Ghost Brigade from earlier, creates a successful combination. Black Days Black Dust also utilizes occasional hardcore aggressiveness that brings to mind the likes of Pro-Pain, the big focus of the final track being the sharply contrasting vocals and instrumentation. I’m left with a single thought at the end of these songs – each note and melody is used only as necessary, to drive Sons of a Wanted Man‘s somber point home, and there’s little to no unnecessary repetition or overuse of ideas.
Black Days Black Dust follows on from a previous, and I believe, nameless release, the arrangements on which I found to be too immature. Judging from the drastic improvements that Sons of a Wanted Man have made on this release, I’m labeling them as a band to watch. I’m left wishing that Black Days Black Dust had featured just two more tracks of the caliber of the above to leave me that little bit more satiated. That said, I’m glad I stumbled across this EP, it’s a great starting point for a band that’s new at their craft, but set for woeful greatness1.