Just Like Vinyl
Black Mass


4.0
excellent

Review

by Cultclassical USER (51 Reviews)
August 28th, 2012 | 34 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The sound of a band becoming an actual band..

With the release of Just Like Vinyl’s debut LP, lead singer/guitarist Thomas Erak proclaimed to the masses to expect “explosive guitar wild rock” and delivered on two of those adjectives. While there were indeed guitars and they did play rock, the album was by and large a boring and tame effort from a band obviously feeling themselves out. With the exception of the song “Death of the Sheep” there was nothing that could be called explosive or wild. Two years later, in a startling display of self-awareness, Erak (at no small amount of prodding from his band mates no doubt) and company realized that they needed to deliver on this promise and with “Black Mass”, did so amazingly.

The name of the game this go around is aggressiveness. One can feel the stark difference in the amount of effort put into making these songs feel punching and immediate. In the making of the self-titled, it was fairly evident that Erak had some weird infatuation with his own voice. Too many times were the instruments toned down to make room for his singing and as any fan of The Fall of Troy knows, and as strange as it sounds, Erak got his fame letting his guitar chops do the talking, not his voice. “Black Mass” is a record where the instruments shine, and they shine brightly. Frantic but controlled guitar work takes center stage with the riffs and progressions all making humongous leaps forward both in terms of writing and execution. The drumming also leveled-up and gives the package much of the added punch mentioned earlier.

The biggest accolade that can be given to “Black Mass” is it seems to have been written by a band way more so than the self-titled did. The self-titled gave off the feeling that Erak was trying too hard to write something different than what he did in the Fall of Troy and the result came off as largely contrived. The feel and direction of “Black Mass” in contrast, is loftier than one man’s ego. The increase in screaming (even after Erak was noted as saying screaming music is dead), the pedal-to-the-metal pacing, the simple fact that you can tell there are two guitarists in the band, hell, even the fact that the album is loosely poking fun at organized religion are all indicative of a band working as a band and the listener is much better off because of it.

Another interesting observation is how the album picks up as it goes along, with the wildest songs on the album being 4 of the last 5 on the album. That is not to say the front half of the album is slow or boring, but it is quite refreshing to hear an album that doesn’t die down near the end of it. One thing some people will notice and that so far has been ever present in Erak’s career is the vocal and lyrical quality. Erak’s vocals have always been firmly seated in the good-but-not-great category and while his voice has improved with age, his high notes and screams are still shrill enough to turn off some listeners. The lyrics are another occupant of the good-but-not-great group. The whole poking fun at organized religion is a tired shtick and while the lyrics aren’t so obvious about it as to induce eye-rolling, there are parts that show some obvious lack of ideas.

The idea in enjoying this album is not to think about all the stuff that Erak can or should’ve done. Has he shown he can write more technical songs than those on “Black Mass” in the past? Yes, much more so too, and while it seems he’s learned to play nicely with his band mates for now, this is Just Like Vinyl and with “Black Mass”, they finally delivered what was promised, some “explosive guitar wild rock.”



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user ratings (53)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Calc
August 27th 2012


12212 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very pleased with this album, it's not really streaming anywhere though.

Pressure/Release- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUacc-EU3DA

Suck to Be You- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiSgqRR6pCk

ATM- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaPSF26yOBI

Digging: Milo - A Toothpaste Suburb

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2012


4435 Comments


Really good review, Calc. Have a pos!
I'm going to add this to my list of things to check out. I really liked The Fall Of Troy back in the day, and it would be nostalgic to hear Thomas Erak shred. But is there any Fall of Troy-esque Prog tendencies on this album?

Calc
August 27th 2012


12212 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

what foxxxy said hardcore

@paperback I'd say so yeah definitely towards the end of the album you'll hear more of a similarity. It's pretty cool how different it sounds but with flashes of those similarities

marksellsuswallets
August 27th 2012


4848 Comments


This has some actually decent songs on it but I still would never listen to any of it over pre-Unlikely Event TFOT.

marksellsuswallets
August 27th 2012


4848 Comments


It's still Thomas Erak playing very Thomas Erak-y guitar riffs in a very similar faux-prog (not using that in a derogatory way) setting. Basically anytime I hear his voice plus hammers and pulloffs it sounds like TFOT to me.

Calc
August 27th 2012


12212 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Basically anytime I hear his voice plus hammers and pulloffs it sounds like TFOT to me."

this is why I put that last paragraph in there, it's hard cuz it's like he's an actor who's been typecast into a specific role which was really good and now he's trying to do something different and no one pays attention lol

tkxxx7
August 27th 2012


6153 Comments


Eh probably won't listen to this but good to know they're doing okay

Calc
August 27th 2012


12212 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hey i too love dick, but id say Happiness is a hole and bitches get stiches are the worst, although still not bad. I don't like the thing when people spell out the song title like they do in Happiness is a hole, it was exactly what I was thinking about when i was writing about the lyrics lol

but yeah I agree that a long epic as an ending with the energy this album had woulda been too cool to just leave this as a 4

Acanthus
August 28th 2012


9543 Comments


"First Born" really has some great instrumentation, his voice doesn't mix quite as well with it as it could though. Going to try the links you provided now.

Digging: Falls of Rauros - The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood

Calc
August 28th 2012


12212 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

tell me what you think..

fuckthatnoise
August 29th 2012


1479 Comments


decided to check this out after seeing some people say that it's Erak's best since Manipulator.

i'm 5 tracks in and this is pretty average so far. and this is coming from someone who actually kinda enjoyed In The Unlikely Event.

ReturnOfTheDnor
August 30th 2012


893 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

No way foxxy.

Walk You Home and Sucks to be You are the two best tracks, and they both happen in the front half.

ReturnOfTheDnor
August 30th 2012


893 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

bitches with stiches isn't nearly as bad as happiness. And the second half, while good, still comes off as boring. And I use that term loosely. I love this album. So when I say boring, I mean, the first half is base jumping off a cliff with a backpack that MIGHT be packed with a parachute, the second half of the album is base jumping while DEFINITELY having a parachute. If you catch my drift....if you don't, fuck you I'm drunk.

Calc
August 30th 2012


12212 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^this.

Lenix
August 30th 2012


793 Comments


cool band

tombits
September 2nd 2012


3470 Comments


wow, is this actually good?

Sun2Moon
September 10th 2012


103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So jammin'! First Born, Sucks to be You and Safety Word are my favorites so far, but the whole album is good.

ReturnOfTheDnor
September 10th 2012


893 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Happiness is a Hole and Bitches get Stitches are sub par.

Rest of the album is spot on.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
September 10th 2012


10594 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I would rather Thomas Erak go absolutely nuts and make a convoluted mess that potentially misses the mark rather than have the boring shit he's been peddling for the past several years.

Digging: Grouper - Ruins

Ire
September 10th 2012


41787 Comments


this sucks somebody lied to me AGAIN



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