Singer/songwriter Dean Blunt, one half of electronic duo Hype Williams, has a reputation in the U.K. experimental scene for being somewhat of an eccentric. His “I do what I feel like” attitude is certainly reflected in his vague lyricism, his subpar vocal delivery, and his unconventional instrumentation. Black Metal is Blunt’s second full-length album, and unless you’re a fan of low-fi experimental music, this might be a project you want to pass on.
The first thing you’re going to notice if you do give this album a listen is Blunt’s mediocre vocal delivery. He’s just not someone who has been graced with a great singing voice, and while he doesn’t try to pretend like he is, you can’t help but wonder how much better some of these tracks would sound with a stronger voice behind them. That being said, Hype Williams partner Inga Copeland’s vocal performance does a good job of salvaging these otherwise mediocre performances.
This isn’t a heavily polished album, and Blunt’s sound doesn’t really have much character beyond low-fi, gentle electric guitar strumming. But he still manages create some very pretty, pleasant moments such as on the opening track “Lush,” “50 Cent,” and “Hush.” The latter half of the album, however, plays more with distortion, dark synth drones, harsh slap bass, and sporadic electronic percussion. This was where the album really falls off, and Blunt is never able to bring the album back from the noisy lull. This drop off is ushered in by the thirteen-minute-long “Forever,” a track that is and monotonous at best, and really isn’t interesting enough to justify its length, even as a passive listener. Unfortunately, the few interesting tracks end prematurely. The opening track is a prime example of this, where its catchy, baroque-style strings could have been developed further and explored, but never really go beyond the simple loop that plays out the barely two-minute-long piece.
Black Metal does have some great moments that you’ll revisit, but they are not enough to save the project as a whole. Blunt definitely shows much potential, but because of some of the gaps in his compositions and consistency problems, Black Metal remains a difficult recommendation. Perhaps that’s just the way Blunt likes it.