There are those who question the validity of music like the sort of droning sludge that California’s Black Sheep Wall make. Some people – believe it or not – don’t really like the repetitive, downtuned guitars and strained vocals that sound like the singer is constipated. That means that those people won’t like “No Matter Where It Ends”, Black Sheep Wall’s second album, because this album is nine tracks of exactly that.
If, however, you do like those things described above, and you like it done to the extreme, then you’ll probably go mad for this album. Opening track ‘Agnostic Demon’ comes in on a wail of feedback before the savage vocals come out of the gloom to tear you a new arsehole. The grind of the guitars and bass create an insistent buzzing that threatens to bore through your ears and into your brain like a dragonfly in a bad mood. And by the time you get to ‘Torrential’ – track number five and nearly twenty-five minutes in – the pace still hasn’t changed, and neither has the vocal pitch or, if you like, the guitar riff!
That may be a tad harsh as this is an album that’s designed to have that effect on you, to hook itself into your head and drag you down into its murky depths, and given the right frame of mind there will probably be a time when you could put this on and say you ‘enjoy’ it. But does anybody really ‘enjoy’ listening to an hour’s worth of sludge-by-numbers?
There are albums out there that do the snail’s pace, doomy thing and do it really well – Cathedral’s classic “Forest of Equilibrium” immediately springs to mind, as well as Crowbar’s “Odd Fellows Rest” to name but two – but there’s something in those records that has that certain something that lifts them from the repetitive gloom that they create, and let’s be honest, do you think Cathedral would have lasted so long if they’d made many more albums in that vein?
All in all, it’s very hard to recommend an album like this if you’re not prepared to give yourself to it. Based on the fact that each song plays at the same slow pace you’ll either like it or you won’t without any middle ground. Make your choice.