Black Sheep [Italy]
Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
A name like Black Sheep, with that somewhat creepy cover artwork that graces their self-titled full length, one would almost expect this Italian outfit to be one with an occult-leaning sound or musical style. Instead, Black Sheep on their debut full length pays tribute to some of their influences, having once upon a time been a Van Halen and Deep Purple cover band.
The ambition of Black Sheep shows, with the band kicking off the album with the instrumental Metal Gate, not hesitating a moment at all to show off the talents of the individual band members. Everything about Metal Gate brings one back to early heavy metal, especially in the guitar playing of Paolo and Luigi, both in the melodies and the harmonising leads on the track. Luigi especially shows off his skills on the track, and prevents himself from over-indulging in speed or technicality, leaving one with rather high expectations of the album as soon as the track ends.
Rather than ride on the high that they have created, Black Sheep instead takes things to a mid-pace with Bridge of Death, losing some of the great momentum. The rather calming, soothing effect is rather contrasting not only to the build up so far, but also to the track title, but still Bridge of Death is a good example of the style of Black Sheep; not overly heavy metal, yet still somewhat harder than hard rock. The influences that the band takes are numerous, and most notably, as the album progresses one is reminded of the 70s and 80s era of big-haired, almost operatic hard rock and metal.
Paolo’s vocals on the record are rather unique, and is also part of what gives Black Sheep its vibe. On the slightly more progressive moments on the album, he brings to mind Geddy Lee, yet on the more melodic and haunting ballads such as I Touch the Sky with My Hands, comparisons to Kai Hansen’s vocals are drawn. Whatever the comparisons are, his voice certainly adds a nice edge to Black Sheep‘s music, and complements the style of the band.
While Black Sheep did not really capture my attention initially, I have to admit that numerous listens have allowed for Black Sheep‘s style to grow on me, and in all honesty, Black Sheep a decent, and rather enjoyable debut release.