Blackscape – Suffocated By the Sun (Massacre Records)Friday, 7th July 2023
Although on the surface this Swedish death/thrash outfit Blackscape are relatively newcomers as Suffocated By the Sun is the trio’s debut album, there’s tons of experience under the belts of the players on hand. Drummer Thomas Ohlsson has been a part of Stass and The Project Hate MCMXCIX, while vocalist Lawrence Mackrory is well-respected in Darkane, beyond his sound engineer/production work. Add in bassist/guitarist Tage Andersson and you have the makings of a solid pedigree – which is what you’ll get in heavy doses for this initial set of material.
The sound of the guitars against the pounding rhythm section work conveys an amalgamation of heaviness, brutality, yet hints at this underlying sense of melodic intuition in spots to hold all the arrangements together. Tage has a way with sprinkling in the right circular, clean passage against this precision downpicking for “Enslaved” that conjures images of Gojira colliding into Bay Area thrash (think Heathen or Death Angel) as Lawrence switches between spitfire screams/growls and calmer, clean melodies. Thomas injects killer shuffle groove action throughout “Bow to Me”, key vocal sequences punctuated by measured shouting as the riffs culminate in this shapeshifting paradox of death/thrash bliss. Chunkier, lower tuning adds heft to other songs, giving Tage maximum range to unfurl his advanced sweeps and neoclassical/progressive chops to make “First in Line” another highlight – while “Stained in Sin” contains some intriguing harmony inflections next to some slower, Metallica-ish parts, proving the band is no one trick pony when it comes to their execution or technical abilities. Those who buy the CD will get a bonus track in “The Blackscape” – the keyboard sequence very 80’s/synthwave-oriented, while the progressive drumming and majestic guitar/bass parts carry a bit of Rush meets Soilwork vibe as an interesting, almost six-minute instrumental offering.
Sophisticated without being overly complex, Blackscape have put out a potent template to expand upon richly through Suffocated By the Sun. Let’s hope there’s enough time in their active musical/production chair schedules to carve out future records and possible festival/touring sessions, as there’s gold in the creative output present here.