Black Trip [Sweden]
I remember first discovering Black Trip when The Dagger broke out with their debut album, being far more impressed with Goin’ Under than the already excellent The Dagger album. With Goin’ Under bearing such stark similarities to the first two Iron Maiden albums (which I am also a great fan of), finding out that Black Trip were releasing their sophomore album Shadowline got me even more excited than the new Maiden album. Especially so with the disappointing first single of the aforementioned legends… Even then, could the band live up to the expectations that have been placed upon them with their stellar debut?
Unlike Goin’ Under, which took a while to warm up, on Shadowline the band cuts to the chase, and right from the opening moments on Die with Me, the band throws out catchy riff after riff and one finds himself headbanging to that ridiculously infectious tunes that Black Trip has put on Shadowline. Joseph Tholl’s husky vocals, as usual, reminds one of the earlier works of Maiden with Paul Di’Anno, and is an immediate throw back to the early 80s of punk-inspired heavy metal. This so in the songwriting of the band as well, with the band often choosing to have more straightforward, no-frills songs that catches the listener’s attention immediately rather than attempting to be overly fancy. The old school influences are obvious, from the duelling guitar solos of Sebastian and Peter that reek of Maiden or Priest, to the generous synths on the record, reminding one of early hard rock legends Rainbow or Deep Purple. The dreamy guitar lines on Subvisual Sleep even brings in some Ghost references, for good measure.
With two members hailing from Enforcer, even having Jonas handling drums on both bands, comparisons are inevitable and fortunately the band seldom take cues from them, with the latter’s recent direction being overly cheesy, losing the original appeal that initially attracted me to them. Even when such influences are crossed over, Black Trip sounds more of a mid-paced version of earlier Into the Night or Diamonds-era Enforcer, like on the title track Shadowline.
The production on Shadowline reeks of 80s flavours as well, not too overly produced and synthetic, yet allowing each of the instruments to stand out. The guitar and drum tones on the album are particularly attractive, with the lead guitars often having a huge sound the way it’s supposed to be.
The growth of Black Trip is obvious between Goin’ Under and Shadowline, and Shadowline could have very easily been the Killers to Iron Maiden‘s self-titled debut. More polished not only in terms of production, but also in terms of songwriting, musical direction and the overall musicality on the record. Hell, Shadowline even beats the last 2 Enforcer records hands down. Now, let’s just hope that Black Trip manages to keep up with the outstanding work that they have done so far.
1. Die With Me
4. Berlin Model 32
5. Over the Worldly Walls
8. Subvisual Sleep
10. The Storm
11. Coming Home
Favourite picks: Shadowline, Subvisual Sleep, Coming Home