Black Absinthe formed in Toronto, Canada in 2011. The media kit says these guys are for fans of Black Sabbath, Killswitch Engage, Motorhead, Mastodon, Coheed and Cambria, etc. Well, as a bit of a Mastodon fan, let’s check this one out! Early Signs of Denial is listed as a full album (their first), but there are only 6 tracks, and there aren’t any lengthy 15 minute efforts that I can see…

The Wild is their opening track, and it’s headfirst into some decent heavy rock, with perhaps a touch of prog. Their sound is not immediately reminding me of anyone in particular – which is a good thing.

The next couple of tracks, Is This Life and Berj Khalifa (I thought it was always spelt ‘Burj’?) are faster paced, with more metal-sounding drumming, and some growled vocals in places in Is This Life. Vocalist and guitarist Jack Cerre’s growling isn’t particularly powerful, maybe he needs a smidge of voice training? Maybe he could just stay with his clean vocals, which are pretty good. My only thought after enjoying the catchy guitar riffs and solid drumming of Berj Khalifa was that if the vocals were just a bit stronger, then I think we’d have a real winner.

Pigs is another track with a reasonable heavy rock/metal sound, but I’m really not sure the vocals are working here. This track is lacking a little “something” – not sure what, but it an’t there. Cerre’s higher pitched, longer held notes in this track remind me of Dexter Holland from Offspring (oh dear).

NOW is reminiscent of old-school Metallica (sort of Kill ‘em All/Ride the Lightning era), but with a ‘nice’ rock touch at times. Now that I’ve ‘heard’ Mr Holland at times in Cerre’s vocals, I can’t unhear it (goddammit). This track goes from thrash to everywhere else and back again – and I’m left a bit confused.

The final track, Winter has some great guitar work to start with. The tempo starts slow, and then moves into a faster thrash/death metal groove, and again, the vocals could ‘oomph’ up and give this more momentum. There’s a solid guitar solo, and I wished they’d allowed it to continue a little longer. Then it’s back to Metallica for the remainder of the song.

Black Absinthe’s debut album effort isn’t too darn shabby. I can’t say I’m picking up too many similarities to the bands mentioned at the beginning of this review, but there’s some pretty decent sounds coming at me from the speakers, and these guys appear to have laid the foundations for creating some great stuff. Let’s give them time to develop and record another album to see how they go.

Early Signs of Denial is out now.