Man, Eric Powell is pissed off. If you thought 16Volt was the be all/end all of Powell then you ain’t heard nothing yet. Rising from the ashes of that industrial juggernaut, Black December might share some 16Volt traits but is something else entirely despite sharing the vocalist. Sure, opener “With This Ending” has enough of those memorable hooks and big choruses that set 16Volt apart from the rest but it’s fueled by this primal intensity not heard from Powell in some time. As a whole, Vol. 1 is a visceral beast and filled with enough rage this side of a Bush-era Ministry album.
Much more of a guitar-driven album than a synth-infested one, Vol. 1 is more heavy metal bliss than electronic excellence and that suits Black December just fine. “I Don’t Even Know You” is this aggressive headbanger propelled forth by Keith Hirschman’s thunderous beats and Powell, Erik Gustafson, and Bobby Thomas’ crushing riffs (You read that right: there’s THREE guitarists here). Elsewhere, “It Just Feels Right” has a guitar pattern that sounds like a swarm of bees attacking which, while at times jarring, is also beautiful.
Bringing up the low end is Kimber Parrish who lays down these pulsating tones on “This Is Not The New” and a dense reverberation on “All You Want”. Getting back to the heaviness of it all, “The Division Of Hate” is this glorious Supercoolnothing throwback (Think “Everyday Everything” or FullBlackHabit’s “The Defect People”) but waaaay more metal, especially during the heavy riffed conclusion. Speaking of “heavy” and “conclusion”, there’s no better ending for Vol. 1 than “Hell On Wheels” and its triumphant guitar squeals, staccato snare, and Powell defiantly stating: “There’s noting you can do/We live the way that we want to/When death is on our heels/We are the righteous/Hell on Wheels”
If 16Volt had to end for Black December to rise like a phoenix then I am okay with that as fellow longtime Eric Powell fans will come to realize once Vol. 1 is released on July 10th through Metropolis Records. Limited edition vinyl is available for pre-order here along with CD copies. And for more on Black December, including where you can catch them with KMFDM this summer, head here.