River Black Proves to Be a Steamroller Ride of an Album
River Black’s debut album is a lush soundscape with apparent hardcore punk and thrash undertones throughout. The band boast an all-star lineup, which includes Mike Olender (Vocals, Burnt By The Sun), John Adubato (Guitar, Burnt By The Sun), David Witte (Drums, Municipal Waste) and Brett Bamberger (Bass, Revocation), whose personal styles and musical strengths complement each other perfectly.
At 12 tracks deep, the album has plenty of opportunities to showcase each member’s unique approach toward his craft. Mike Olender’s vocals are teeming with energy and force, especially on the first track of the album, “Jaws.” He does an incredible job of taking an already phenomenal rhythm section and elevating it to new heights, his roaring cadence penetrating the mix. The production of the album as a whole is superb; at no point on the LP is any instrument drowned out by sheer forcefulness of composition. For example, after the instrumental title track leads into “South x South,” the bass guitar becomes more prominent, distinguishing itself from the bass drum incredibly well.
River Black does an excellent job of picking up steam as it progresses, getting thicker and heavier with time. As track eight, “Move,” begins, the arrangement works itself into a frenzy of sorts with each member unleashing a personal hell of his own design by means of exorbitant drum fills, bass isolation and a generally rebellious aura throughout. According to the band, the album was made as an emotional reaction and answer to the call of the heavy music of today; and it seems as if they have accomplished what they set out to do. At no point does the album seem gimmicky or clichéd; it’s a straight-to-the-point LP that embodies heavy rock astonishingly well. Though it is too early to tell if River Black are here to stay as a band, listeners can do nothing but hope that there is more to come in the future.