Modern metal is, in varying degrees, divided between the opposites of purism and progression. Some insist that every worthwhile album is already out there, while others argue that metal’s heyday is yet ahead. The former tend to advocate “worship” bands that recreate the sounds of old, while the latter attempt to push progression and technicality to unprecedented ends. Still others, not content with either extreme, pick and choose from any era or genre with a liberating lack of context.
“Blackened hyper-power death thrash” is how Blackest Sin describes their sound, according to bassist Tim Lewis — an intentionally long-winded label that illustrates the Calgary group’s irreverent arsenal of influences.
“It’s all over the board man,” reiterates guitarist/vocalist Rob Salewich, who jokes with the term “scrap metal.”
“Sometimes, there’re bands that specialize in certain things and then there’re bands that just do everything.”
Above all else though, Blackest Sin affiliate best with the energy and attitude of classic thrash and don’t hesitate to bear the thrash banner, especially when performing.
“It doesn’t matter what style of music we play, we definitely treat it like it’s all thrash when we’re onstage.”
Despite combining nearly every element of metal on the periodic table, from the melodic charge of electric power riffing to the Satanic hissing of blackened blasts and screeched vocals, it’s the aggression of early thrash – à la Kreator, Megadeth, etc. – that give Blackest Sin their edge when playing live.
“You’ll never catch any of us falling asleep onstage at a show,” adds drummer Nick Meunier. “Never, ever, ever.”
In terms of more local role models, Salewich points to 3 Inches of Blood as an iconic Canadian act, one that shares some stylistic similarities to Sin’s music.
“In a big way, in Western Canada, I think a lot of it stemmed from 3 Inches of Blood and shit like that: that’s thrashy shit and that’s putting Vancouver on the map.
“Everybody’s kind of growing in Western Canada.”
With local metal scenes on the up and up, it’s finally time for Calgary’s foremost “miscellaneous metal” four-piece to release their first full-length, after about two and a half years together. The songs themselves though, as Salewich explains, are somewhat older: Salewich wrote much of the material with co-founder Matt James as long as four years ago before putting together a live line-up.
“I started out with some basic song structures… and over time they’ve kind of morphed and changed. We just took the songs and turned them into what each piece of us had to do with it.”
This self-titled debut was recorded with Alan Holowaychuk of Face Value Recording over a period of seven months. According to the man behind the mixing board, the process wasn’t prolonged out of laziness, far from it.
“They’re long songs, there’s a lot of parts, there’s a lot of challenging stuff… Everybody was there, every day of the week, for seven months,” he explains.
It was this uninhibited effort that allowed Blackest Sin to capture the warlike intensity of their live performances on record.
“That was the biggest thing for me: I don’t like to do super overproduced records,” Holowaychuk continues.“I like to make it sound like it was live. There [are] fuck-ups, but there’s passion behind the fuck-ups…. It’s live. It’s real.”
Upon the release of their album, Blackest Sin take aim at touring both east and west across the country, playing local shows, and beginning work on a follow-up.
As Salewich says, “Just keep fuckin’ thrashing!”
Pick up a copy of Blackest Sin’s self-titled debut on Friday, February 8 at Lord Nelson’s Bar & Grill (1020 – 8 Ave. S.W.), where they will perform with Hammerdrone, Burning Effigy, Kyoktys, and Stab.Twist.Pull.
By Ian LemkeAB, Alberta