There’s some Black Bile on my stage

Posted on July 4th, 2008 by Valtteri

Great Ape LanguageLast Wednesday I went to the club Semifinal, which is a part of the famous rock venue Tavastia, to catch Black Bile live for the first time.  Black Bile is a metal project by Henri Kuittinen, who writes all the music and plays all the instruments in the studio.  Live, however, he is joined by a live band, so it’s pretty much like what Trent Reznor has been doing with his Nine Inch Nails.  Last December Black Bile was signed for Sakara Records as the label’s first band singing in English. Sakara Records is a record label run by the wildly successful trash metal band Mokoma, and in the last couple of years Sakara Records has been quickly gaining popularity and a wealth of new artists.  At the moment they house Finnish success stories like Stam1na and Diablo and the veterans of progressive rock and punk YUP.

Black Bile’s music is metal combined with a great number of other influences like a little bit of industrial, post-punk, new wave, pop and all kinds of other stuff.  All of this is painted pitch-black by a thick layer of Nordic melancholy and desperation.  Black Bile’s debut album Great Ape Language (released 16th April this year) received mixed reviews in the Finnish music media mainly due to the huge amount of different styles Kuittinen has mixed together, others praising Kuittinen’s flexibility and the overall quality of the music, others criticizing the album for being a way too much of a jumble of elements. As for me, well, I think it’s a really interesting and complex album.  I wasn’t hooked the first time I listened to it, actually I was almost kind of angry that I had bought the album, but I just wasn’t able to resist popping it back into the stereos soon.  There was something there which made me want to listen to it again and again…

H. KuittinenNow I can say that Great Ape Language is an very good debut album, however I do have to admit that it’s a real difficult one at first.  Even though there evidently are a ton of influences, Kuittinen has managed to create a very unique sound for his project by making all of the different elements fit each other in a blastedly interesting way.   The sound is characterized by transitions between crunching riffs and somber, sentimental acoustic guitars, minimal electronic touches, careful use of celloes and most prominently, such a level of depression that you could say it’s running rampant.  Really, it seems melancholy is the key element in Black Bile: it more or less penetrates and dominates just about every single song on Great Ape Language.  Hell, even the band’s name itself is a reference to melancholy, the word deriving from the ancient Greek words for “black bile”. This definitely isn’t music for your sunny afternoon in a car, folks.

Interestingly, while Black Bile is decidedly a metal band, it’s the quieter tracks and the numerous ballads that appeal the most to me.  Although the opener Earth Will Rise and the bleak Mute are great metal crushers, songs like the surprisingly Weezerian Light That Failed, the ballads Valerian and Emily and the dark, electronic soundscapes of Monochrome steal the spotlight.  Here the melancholy works for great effect with the mellower atmosphere, and Kuittinen’s voice is also better suited for these kinds of quieter tracks.  For example the one true in-your-face death metal track Divorced with the World is only average at the very best.  In conclusion, I’d say Great Ape Language is an honest, uncompromising album, a misunderstood and underappreciated gem.  It might be difficult to listen to at first, but grows on you rather quickly.  It’s got its fair share of flaws, but I’m sure that if Kuittinen wants to continue with his project, by the second album we’ll have a true masterpiece in our hands.

You can check out Black Bile’s music on their MySpace or the official site where the player seems to have the whole album for preview.  You can buy Great Ape Language at Record Shop X for 15,90 €, and they even ship worldwide.

Tracklisting for Great Ape Language by Black Bile

1. Earth Will Rise
2. Valeriam
3. Light That Failed
4. Infection
5. Divorced With The World
6. Emily
7. Half
8. Mute
9. Monochrome
10. Worst Case Scenario
11. Slumber

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