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Bakc in Blakc

music Updated: Jun 16, 2012 00:38 IST
Indrajit Hazra
Indrajit Hazra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

You don’t get much more high on the Kerrang! quotient than in the opening bars of ‘Bitten’, the first track of Blakc’s second album, MotheredLand. What follows the zigzag riff is a cloud of a drum roll and then some jungle-trailing into a rap core. But the rattle in this snake lies in the wonderfully melodic chorus: “Le-e-ave/ This city full of thieves/ The fire burns,/ I’m now begging on my knees!” It’s been a while since I heard an over five minute-long song that I wished was a wee bit longer.

The grungy vocals of Shawn Pereira in ‘The dreamcast’ could have done with a bit less of that squeeze’n’wince routine that makes me turn down the treble so that I don’t get to hear only his vocal cords shredding against each other. Which makes me in turn wonder whether guitarists Reinhart Dias and Anish Menon try their best to manfully cover Shawn’s extra-gnashings by overplaying their guitars — before the lead guitar lifts off the air on fabulous fret wings in the middle of the track.

The echo-pedalled pluckety pluck that starts off ‘Agenda’ is a bit too MTV talent hunt-ish for me. The song finds itself in the second half, where the core gets harder and thankfully far removed from the ‘jingles’ air at the start and the stretched out like a day-long still-chewing gum.

‘Peddler of rainbows’ soft-silks its way along the rope of a brilliant bassline provided by Roop Thomas, who could be the only chap in Blakc blessed with the gift of knowing the virtues of underplaying. This is a deceptively delicate song. The harmonisation makes the number have the deepness of a dry Rajasthan summer well. There’s something shimmering in the music when the voices draw out, “To da-a-a-a-ance/ while you sing and play.” There’s some powerful magical moments here. But again, a solid, pointless chunk should have just been chopped off in this 5 min 8 sec track.

The recording tape loops to unveil ‘Untitled’, with its Spanish strums and emo-heaving (and slightly dodgy accented) vocals. I’m relieved when the spaced-out intro of ‘My angry song’ rescues me. There’s a gem tucked inside this track, especially the stuttering guitar crashes and where Shawn finally sounds natural and without any memories of elocution classes plaguing him behind the microphone. I love the guitar trickery of ‘Blacklisted’, that sounds like an evil fly buzzing above the breakfast table while you nurse a hangover. This is the tightest track in the album.

The next song, ‘Storm’, seems to be running low on tune — until it crashes on to the shore of the chorusline courtesy a guitar-piledriving raft. The elegiac ‘Paper doll’ insists that you watch the fingers going up and down and up the fretline like a headless monkey jumping across car roofs in rush hour. I just wish no one tried (unsuccessfully) to sound like James Hetfield on the vocals. ‘Porcelain’ — with a dash of Alice of Chains’ ‘Heaven beside you’ in the riff — ends MotheredLand, a more than fine song to end to a fine album.

I had first written about these Mumbai boys when they had released their debut album Choking On A Dream (hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/Views/Bend-blackward/Article1-495366.aspx) two years ago. I liked them then. I like them more now. Buy MotheredLand on the website. But do catch them live if you can.

SLASH BURNS

Oh, the wah-wahs squeal, the wires burn the moment I hear the title track of Slash’s second solo album, Apocalyptic Love. It has the sheer dino-stomp that I certainly haven’t heard from the top-hatted guitarman since those Guns’n’Roses days. Myles Kennedy on vocals, from Alter Bridge, along with the band Conspirators, have given royal flesh to Slash’s guitardoodlings.

‘One last thrill’ is a rip-roaring rock’n’roller via an updated Sex Pistols sound. By the time, the rumblings of ‘Standing in the sun’ reach my door, my socks have already been blown off. Tracks like ‘’You’re a lie’ (those angry guitar chomps are followed by a sizzling calmness in Kennedy’s voice that follows), ‘No more heroes’ (a contemplative buzz of a number in which Slash astoundingly ‘plays’ the Moog on his Gibson Les Paul) and ‘We will roam’ (the perfect long road trip song) together make a stunningly good guitar album.

Coming two years after Slash’s eponymous solo debut album and five years after the last Velvet Revolver record, Apocalyptic Love contains Slash’s finest, most swaggering post-G’n’R music to date. Some tracks are ballsier. There, I said it!