Rating: 3.5/5





Are you sick of tight, rocking throwback bands from Sweden yet? Of course not. You know why you’re not sick of these bands? Because they always manage to sound so freakin’ good. Throwback hate generally comes in the form of those incessant gripes that retro-leaning bands are “unoriginal” or “uninspired” rip-off artists. Bands that gain their inspiration from the past are seldom given credit for writing creative music. Instead they tend to get the scoff treatment. My thoughts on that perspective? It’s a crock of a shit. People who make those claims against retro bands have probably never written a song, nor had the pleasure of making music before. Five seconds was all it took for me to realize that Black Trip’s “Going Under” is the kind of record that could silence those naysayers, (because there will undoubtedly be naysayers regardless of all the musicians’ individual contributions to the Swedish death metal scene, like Nifelheim, Exhumed and Necrophobic.) Only now, instead of guttural growls and blitzkrieg riffing, these fine musicians have given us a howling throwback that still sounds fresh and original, one that’s sure to make all the NWOBHM lovers out throw the horns and scream for vengeance.

It’s been a good few years for melodic metal. Although the metal world will more than likely always tilt towards the extreme, those who prefer tonal singers, catchy choruses, and slick, harmonized guitars now have plenty of choices at their leisure. “Going Under” is the latest to deliver these goods. Black Trip has masterfully honed in on those little quirks that made Judas Priest, UFO, and early Scorpions irresistible to fans. Frontman, Joseph Tholl, has the perfect rasp to his voice. It adds a good, tough edge to his incredibly catchy vocal melodies. However, the standout stars of the band are the riff master guitarists, Peter Stj√§rnvind and Sebastian Ramstedt. These gents, known for the chainsaw shred from their previous incarnations, are sure to make all the guitar geeks drool. Pretty much every tune on “Going Under” is an air guitar-worthy tour de force. The record opens with “Voodoo Queen.” The only flaw with this tune is the fact that you’ll want to keep listening to it over and over, thus delaying your overall experience with the record. However, once you get to “Radar,” you may find yourself closing your eyes and envisioning a nighttime drive in a vintage T-top, passing joints and cracking tallboys with friends as you drive into the city looking for trouble. It’s vibrant, youthful and fun. Everything that made early ‘80s metal great.

Further along in the album, listeners will probably gravitate towards to the Thin Lizzy-isms of  “Putting out the Fire” and “No Tomorrow,” the latter of which begins with an evil isolated guitar before taking things into some Iron Maiden territory from the Paul Di’anno era. The band totally nails the “Killers” vibe. Galloping riffs, war drum fills, and classic fist-in-the-air energy. The record ends with the title track, another catchy rocker featuring the choppy stop/start riffing that Gary Moore utilized on “Black Rose: A Rock Legend.” The song’s minor key feel definitely makes the chorus chant of, “Tonight I’m living with the dead!” leap out into the foreground. With its semi-lengthiness, (clocking in at a near six minutes whereas the record predominantly features three minute rockers,) this tune, with its shifting dynamics, was a fine choice of a closer.

“Going Under” is the perfect record for those who are looking for a good “cut-to-the-chase” scenario. The only complaints I could see listeners having is that the record tends to get a little “samey” throughout, (a pretty common grievance with bands who have such a signature sound.) However, if 15 minute doom epics are growing tiresome for you, this is definitely an album that eliminates anything remotely superfluous, but at the same time it’s not a boneheaded party rock record. It is a near flawless, fist-banging joyride into darkness, danger, and delight.

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