- Knowing Dean Blunt's past work with and without Inga Copeland, it would be instinctive to approach Black Metal without expecting the title to offer a clue about the contents. Sure enough, the maverick's first release for Rough Trade sounds nothing like Venom's landmark album of the same title or anything that has drawn from it. Presented in predictably none-more-black packaging, there's merely a track list and sample credits. Printed in white, they identify the source of the strings in "Lush" (Big Star's "For You") and Blunt's unwitting duet partner in "100" (Annabel Wright, via the Pastels' "Over My Shoulder"). The sample choices actually reflect where Blunt's head was at, stylistically, as a large portion of Black Metal resembles the kind of lo-fi, solitary works of eccentrics who would have been at home in the mid- to late '80s on labels like Factory Benelux, Creation, or, well, Rough Trade. For all the gently strummed and plucked guitars and bare thudding drums, Blunt certainly lends his own songwriting style, and he continues to apply seemingly helter-skelter track titles. "50 Cent" is a kind of high-lonesome confessional, drenched in reverb, that separates itself from typical indie pop fare with lines like "She got a new n*gga, now she can't be found" and "Five-o comin' and they know my name." "X," nine minutes in length, likewise serves contrast, where a droning, Tropic of Cancer-like backing supports standard rap lines regarding beez and trees delivered plaintively. (Just for the hell of it, maybe, the track concludes with a quote from Jaja Soze's "Broken Trust.") "Molly & Aquafina" is the album's most desolate, stripped-down recording -- no party anthem, even when Blunt offhandedly offers, "I don't worry 'bout nothin'." Blunt also continues to create borderline bleak instrumentals. "Forever," titled perhaps as self-criticism, stammers and flails in slow motion, and is extinguished after 13 minutes, while the two-minute "Country" approaches a drunken soundclash between Ekoplekz and Kode9. ~ Andy Kellman
CMJ - "His music is sparse, but textured, as if something is hiding in the corners of even the most simple ballads."
Clash (magazine) - "BLACK METAL transitions with hypnotic clarity considering its palette. Easy-listening country rock and lonely saxophone trails fall into 13-minute electro-jazz opus `Forever'."