REVIEW: Black Therapy – Onward

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Melodic death metal act BLACK THERAPY has released – on June 10th, 2022 – their fourth full length “Onward,” via Swedish label Black Lion Records. The band was founded in Rome, Italy, back in 2009, and went through some lineup changes, the latest of which sees drummer Francesco Comerci joining the act in 2021. However, the 5-piece has always been quite consistent in terms of its musical identity, but at the same time I can say that the title they gave to this latest album of theirs is not a mere coincidence: they, in fact, did move onward, let’s say more than one step forward compared to their previous works.

Even though their style is mainly rooted in Swedish death metal from the late ‘90s, it does feel like they managed to develop their personal sound on this album, in their peculiar way, to combine catchy melodies, epic riffs, a versatile rhythmic section, and less than boring vocals, which really add a lot of flavor to the whole thing, where every word matters in order to drag the listener into a vortex; both raspy and guttural vocals, and some clean vocals here and there make the listening experience rich and complex, in a good way.

The band members, moreover, prove to be absolutely aware of how a melodic death metal album should sound nowadays, in order to avoid any cliché: there are a couple of tunes on “Onward” that could be considered to be perfect examples of that, where a good balance between melody and aggressiveness finds its way; for instance the third track, “Behind the Glass,” sees a special guest, Filippo Palma, on additional vocals, where the predominant melancholic mood is mainly provided by clean vocals and lead guitar. It is worth mentioning that their bass player, Lorenzo Carlini, happens to play guitar in INVERNOIR, another local band we have been writing about a couple of years ago when they released their first full-length, proving that versatility is often a good option. Moreover, he took care of recording, mixing, and mastering as well, along with the songwriting of most of the tunes on this release.

The following tune, “Together,” is heavily and openly inspired by the masters of melodic death metal, DARK TRANQUILLITY and INSOMNIUM among the others: the catchy and powerful chorus is something I could not help singing along to, while picturing a live show in my head where the band was playing this absolute ear-worm… The combination of lead and acoustic guitars on instrumental track “At the Gates of Soul” gives a wider idea on how multifaceted BLACK THERAPY approach is – really effective, through its classy simplicity.

The Song of My Absence” can probably be considered the highlight of this album, thanks to its unpredictable pattern: many changes of pace and an overall epic vibe really make it a great example of how the genre can evolve, in a perfect balance of well-known elements that can be also used and re-arranged in a new, personal, creative way. Clean, almost whispered vocals in the beginning, along with a powerful chorus provided by singer Giuseppe Di Giorgio, do summarize one of the many steps forward the band took on this album, also in terms of songwriting, which looks empowered, enriched, and way more original than before, also in comparison with other albums in the very same subgenre.

An unexpected female guest on the very last track makes the opus even more colorful: the juxtaposition of Chiara Filippelli’s intense vocals and the frontman’s melancholic chant, along with excellent guitar work provided by Davide Celletti and Andrea Mataloni, gives extra flavor to the whole tune.

In conclusion, I can openly say that an album like this is a game-changer in the band’s career: they managed to convey a wide range of emotions in the most spontaneous yet well-reasoned way. From opening tune “Onward” to closing track “A Quiet Place,” BLACK THERAPY guides the listener through their gloomy world, and it is totally worth your while to get lost in it for a while.

Written by Licia Mapelli

Tracklist

  1. Onward
  2. Blindness
  3. Betray My Ideals
  4. Behind the Glass
  5. Together
  6. At the Gates of Soul
  7. The Song of my Absence
  8. Destroy the Fate
  9. A Quiet Place

Lineup

Giuseppe Di Giorgio – vocals
Andrea Mataloni – guitars
Davide Celletti – guitars
Lorenzo Carlini – bass
Francesco Comerci – drums

Label

Black Lion Records

Links

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Bandcamp