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Black Sheep Wall - No Matter Where It Ends CD (album) cover


Black Sheep Wall


Experimental/Post Metal

3.00 | 3 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'No Matter Where It Ends' - Black Sheep Wall (6/10)

While I may not have actually heard the music of Black Sheep Wall before this latest album, the name alone has given me a few nostalgic chuckles since I first heard the name some years ago. Not necessarily because I find the prospect of a fortification built from the bodies of darkly pigmented, adult lambs hilarious (I do) but rather that I know where the name came from. Like the guys in Black Sheep Wall, I grew up with the game Starcraft, and probably put more hours into it than it takes to read a Tolstoy novel. "Black Sheep Wall" was a cheat code from the game: if I remember correctly, it gave the player a complete view of the map. The endearing pretext aside, Black Sheep Wall deliver a convincing glob of sludgy doom here on their second album, "No Matter Where It Ends." This gloomy tension is executed very well, but a lack of evolution in the sound throughout the album can lead things to feel a little monotonous by the time it's over.

I'd heard Isis mentioned several times while reading up on Black Sheep Wall, and I think I'd agree that it is a good place to start when trying to compare or describe what BSW are up to with their music. It's fired up with heavy-as-hell guitars, and a looming tempo that rarely leaves its steady march. Vocalist Trae Malone delivers a deep growl filled with anger and intensity. This could sound like a recipe for some kind of death-doom hybrid, but Black Sheep Wall retain an undeniably sludgy sound thanks to the surprising level of refinement in the sound. Although it would sound more natural for BSW to let loose on the rhythms and compositions, and mirror the aggression in the texture of the music, "No Matter Where It Ends" not once leaves the control of its musicians. I get the impression of a massive beast in chains, roaring in vain. A Zerg Ultralisk, perhaps?

Especially considering that the album peaks over the hour-length mark, it's a bit of a disappointment that Black Sheep Wall never feel like they let their blend of sledge metal off the reins and infuse some dynamic into the mix. Much of the album feels like it could have used some sense of melody to keep it interesting. The times in which this wish is actually granted are fairly few and far between, although the times when they are ("Black Church" and "Ambient Ambitions") feels majestic, almost as if the listener is suddenly thrust into the emotional climax of an atmospheric black metal epic. While the 'metal' element of Black Sheep Wall rarely deviates from its gloomy riffs and thumping rhythms, a good part of "No Matter Where It Ends" gets allocated to strange electronic experiments, often falling between industrial and noise music. As a listener, I'm often not attracted to music of this nature, but- if even only for the sake that hearing the band change face so quickly- it's among one of the most interesting aspects of the album. I will try not to spoil it too much, but I'll mention that listeners should be ready for a bit of a system shock, come "Cognitive Dissonance."

I think Black Sheep Wall's greatest strength here is there ability to mesh two things that would often conflict with each other: refinement and grit. Although few of the riffs here stand out as being impressive in their own right, Black Sheep Wall have got an incredibly effective guitar tone going for them. I am ultimately left feeling like "No Matter Where It Ends" is a relatively static album. It could have used some heavy trimming around the edges, but "No Matter Where It Ends" features a great palette of all things sludgy. Black Sheep Wall have a little ways to go yet, but there's a solid foundation for possibly great things.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |


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