BLACKHOUR – SINS REMAIN
RELEASED: January 5th, 2016
By now I’ve reviewed a few progressive rock and metal bands. I usually find that the progressive metal bands show great talent but rarely do anything that other progressive metal bands aren’t doing. Usually it’s the progressive rock bands who find unique ways to redefine “progressive” while the metal bands just follow the suit of granddaddies like Dream Theater or Symphony X. While Pakistan metal band Blackhour surely have taken some influence by such predecessors, their upcoming album Sins Remain proves to be a bit more than your average progressive metal album.
One thing that isn’t different from your standard progressive metal album is the song lengths. Sins Remain features only five songs with lengths that range from 5:19 to 9:01. Blackhour use these long song lengths to their advantage to add as many riffs, hooks and experiments as they possibly can. The immediate thing I noticed when putting on opening track Losing Life is the tightness of the band and their transitions from different tempos and levels of intensity, and rather than impress you with virtuosic playing (though guitarists Hashim Mehmood and Mubbashir Sheikh Mashoo prove to be very capable and talented players) Blackhour would rather make the song as catchy and memorable as possible.
The vocals on Sins Remain are exceptional. Blackhour‘s Tayyab Rehman has a good rasp to his voice that he can keep under control most of the time. But most importantly he knows how to use it to make good powerful melodies like on the upbeat Iron Maiden sounding track Wind of Change. The guitar riffs are what keep Battle Cry playing over in your head. It’s a simpler fast paced metal song compared to the more complicated long tracks Blackhour has spread throughout the rest of the album. However it’s a perfect combination of vocal melodies and guitar riffs that keep listeners entertained during the nine-minute Life Brings Death, Love Brings Misery. The only problem with the latter is, as catchy as the chorus is, I think it could have been a couple of minutes shorter.
The closing title track Sins Remain is perhaps the most progressive Blackhour gets on the album. It starts slow for about four minutes, then blasts into a Celtic guitar riff that speeds the song up to a mid/fast tempo before ending in an epic display of experimentation. The sound of what I’m almost positive is a banjo is ever so evident towards the end. I know, when you think “banjo” in a metal song you think “huh?” but believe me, it works out much better than you’d think.
There are a lot of impressive things about Blackhour. They are one of the only metal bands in Pakistan; for a band without much homeland competition they sure do bring their ‘A’ game; they are superb at making progressive metal songs. There is also a lot of classic metal influence heard throughout Sins Remain. While they definitely fall under the progressive category, they still manage to blend in high energy classic metal hooks which – mixed with their tightness and ability to make a long song sound good all the way through – makes Sins Remain not only a fantastic album by an independent band from a country where heavy metal isn’t readily available around the corner at the local record store, but also a really good metal album in general.
“Wind of Change” – I choose this song because it’s short, so it’s a little more to the point, but it also has progressive elements that show Blackhour‘s capabilities. It has a more Iron Maiden approach to its sound but it doesn’t sound like an imitation, and it’s high energy, all things that are sure to please most metal fans.
8.5 (Out of 10)
|1.||Losing Life 6:54|
|2.||Wind of Change 5:34|
|3.||Life Brings Death, Love Brings Misery 9:01|
|4.||Battle Cry 5:19|
Sins Remain 8:23