Album Review: Black Tongue Reverend’s Debut “Northern Burden”
ALBANY – Music has the intrinsic quality to it that can cause a slate of emotions and actions – eliciting as wide a range of feelings as sharing a tender moment with a loved one to evoking contemplative, introspective thoughts, to wanting to just smash a bottle of Jameson down and scream into the void. With their debut release, Northern Burden, that came out February 27th, Black Tongue Reverend, comprised of Eric Tulip on bass and vocals, Mike Errichetto on guitars, and Geoff Gorman on drums certainly hit the nail on its head with that latter sentiment. Featuring blistering musicality that hits the ground running and doesn’t stop until the album concludes, combined with a certain machismo that acknowledges, but doesn’t over-inflate itself or act self-indulgent, Black Tongue Reverend have created an amazing debut release.
“Texas Freeze,” the opening track, began with a lone guitar, followed by a doubling up of parts as the whole band entered. A very anthemic riff that drew listeners in and persisted throughout the verses, it helped establish quickly what this album was all about. After the second chorus, a bluesy guitar solo started, and additional – and extremely effective – guitar fills were speckled through the latter half of the song. With an outro that mimicked the intro, then came to an abrupt end, this song was a gritty blues-stomper through-and-through. Fantastically arranged and performed, it served the album greatly as its opener.
The title track, “Northern Burden,” contained guitar lines that followed the melody quite well. Throughout the EP, the band was dialed right into one another. This was especially true for this track; after the second chorus, a grooving musical interlude was heard that broke up the expected patterns of the song. As an aside from guitar aficionados, what I really enjoyed – and sunk my musical teeth into – was the tuning used. The guitars were in a drop tuning, which made all the chords sound deliciously lush and thick; a definite plus for this particular listener. Near the end of the song, a great bass line was played by itself before the band rejoined for the song’s outro. In the view of this author, it’s a more enjoyable listening experience when each instrument and its wielder get to make a statement, musically speaking, and this bass line served to do just that.
“Double Vision,” the third track served as an example of the band’s effective rhythm section. The song began with a bass and drum intro. Oozing swagger and grit bar-by-bar, this tune quickly became my favorite on the EP. As the guitars entered the mix – most notably doing so with the squealing of feedback – Black Tongue Reverend put on display their skill in arranging musical ideas; the riffs of the bass and guitars complemented each other brilliantly. Throughout the tune, the vocals floated above the overall groove of the instruments. Then, a quick — but extremely smooth – bass fill hit just before the guitar solo near the end of the song, and as the tune faded, the band geared up its listeners for the last track, “Chewing Stones.”
This track was admittedly very different from the first three heard thus far. Both guitar and bass tracks were heavily-effected with chorus pedals, a tone harkening back to progressive rock giants the likes of Rush, et al. With lyrics that were almost at a spoken cadence during the verse (all the while being supported by melodic guitar lines), Black Tongue Reverend demonstrated how they could shift gears, and shift gears well when it came time for the chorus. The melodic nature of the guitar at this point switched to sludging, chugging goodness, and the energy of the song soared. As the song went along, this ebb and flow of energy was handled extremely well. Before I knew it, the track was over and I realized my listening experience had already come to its end.
When one finds an album or artist they enjoy, they often go into similar sounding artists in order to describe it. I surely could do this, but I won’t. I will say, however, that if you love blues-rock, and are looking for new bands, you definitely shouldn’t waste any time and go listen to this album. Northern Burden is a wonderful debut release from Black Tongue Reverend. It’s the embodiment of grit. It’s goddamned terrific.