A mix of thrash, blues rock, alternative and even death metal, we have something rather unexpected from Canada's Black Absinthe. Apparently this is a bit of a new direction for the guys as their Metal Archives definition is considered to be Heavy Metal/Punk Rock and I'm hearing something completely different. Let's take, “Is This Life” for instance. It starts up almost with a Metallica style thrash, but then rolls into something that sounds more like chorus friendly radio rock. Maybe a little like Fozzy. Then you've got the fiendish death growls which seem to come out of nowhere. Technically this doesn't make them death metal, but there are a lot of thrash bands out there with death metal vocals. “The Wild” opens the disc with a sort of southern blues rock, while we hear a sort of progressive touch on “Berj Khalifa.” Maybe it's a bit more melodic, like the Police. Whatever the case, there's definitely some experimenting going on here and it's working for them. Jack Cerre isn't the best vocalist in the world by far, but he's a great guitarist and really seems to be stepping out of his comfort zone with this one. “Now” definitely shows one of his best sing-along moments, proving that this debut (it's not actually an EP) has the band with their feet in the right direction. No one needs to point it out, they're already there. I have a really funny feeling that an act like Black Absinthe could become very popular due to the type of formula they have here. Now this is just me speculating, but I'm going to break it down for you.
First, I've noticed that these guys have a very commercial vibe when it comes to compositions, but they still manage to stuff it with just the right amount of raw meat in the vein of extreme metal (Winter) to appeal to the metal community. Those heavy parts, as sparse as they might be on this disc, are just enough to appeal to metal fans and will make the act loosely fit the metal genre tag. Cerre even employs a darker tinged sort of riffing in sections that kind of sounds like black metal and that's usually enough in itself. That being said, they still have that very commercial, very marketable aspect and could have some songs play on alternative rock radio. “Now” would work for that, which brings a very catchy chorus right into the hands of new listeners that will more or less purchase the disc just for it. But none of these casual listeners would expect the band's powerful display of darkness in “Winter” which hopefully is a sign of much greater things to come.
Early Signs Of Denial is the kind of disc that can reel you in and keep you entertained on mid-era Metallica/latter-Trivium/current Avenged Sevenfold style pieces, but will also come with a slight bite in the realms of more evil metal (some of the people that unexpectedly hear these utterances will not be familiar with them and will consider them evil, after all I just had a guy ask me if Stephen King was the devil at work earlier this evening) which many of those casual listeners might not be expecting and will open up to. It's a possibility, just as BabyMetal has opened the doors to an entire genre for non-metal listeners. Necessary evils, I'd think. While not quite as extreme as you like, or not quite as family friendly, you'll definitely get a great variety of material here with the record and it's definitely not the kind of record that would upset members of your religious congregation. These guys are very much in the same vein as Metallica as far as I'm concerned and they're mostly quite harmless. Just be careful, because it does bite.
(6 Tracks, 27:00)