Temptation Halo

Black Dahlia

BloodMagic Music, 2003

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Despite my predilection for progressive rock and acoustic music, I get in occasional moods for loud, aggressive, dark, and edgy electronica and hard rock. The problem with the musical spectrum that ranges from Tool to Nine Inch Nails to Disturbed is easy to identify; when it sucks, it sucks really really bad, and it sucks a lot.

Thank the Unseelie Court for bands like Black Dahlia; they're so good they almost single-handedly redeem the genre. On their debut CD, Temptation Halo, the St-Louis based indie performers of "dark electronic sleaze" (their words) blow the doors off, serving up a heaping helping of gothic goodness that's light-years (or would that be dark-years?) ahead of most purveyors of the genre.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

First off, let's talk about the sound. Black Dahlia manages to sound textured without sounding muddy; nothing disappears in the mix, and you get moments where individual instruments stand out and grab you like the keyboards in "All For Nothing" or the dark, ringing guitars on "Requiem." Kudos to the production and engineering, which was handled by the band members; Temptation Halo is really, really crisp, playing up the music's strengths.

In terms of musicianship, there isn't a bad performance on the disc. Lead vocalist Christoph D'Vincent Hrivnak has a great, great set of pipes; he alternately soars and growls with a brilliant capacity for expression on his voice. Guitarists Joel Emory and Jimmi Griffin are terrific, alternately providing the background underpinning and letting loose like demons (especially on "Lust (Starfucker)," where they take the paint off walls). Aaron X's bass throbs like a heartbeat, balanced elegantly by Michael St John's thundering drums. All the members of Black Dahlia are veterans of the St Louis indie scene, and you can tell; these guys have the skills and the cojones to use 'em.

Best of all, maybe, is that Black Dahlia is pissed off, and lets you know it. Under the dark electronic veneer is an attitude like a punk band on too much caffeine and sugar; on songs like "Hate" and "Bitter And Blasphemous" they transcend the trite shock-value of most goth and metal music to really say some things that need saying. Imagine, if you will, if Rage Against The Machine, Disturbed, and Trent Reznor had a bastard child -- I suspect it'd sound a lot like Black Dahlia.

On "Hate," Christoph snarls "Wake up -- it's almost over / I may be evil or just misunderstood." On the contrary, I think Black Dahlia understands themselves pretty well; they're right, they're tight, and they're one of the best things I've heard this year. Check 'em out before they make it any bigger -- because I suspect they will. Temptation Halo is brilliant.

To order Black Dahlia's Temptation Halo , check out www.blackdahliamusic.com.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of BloodMagic Music, and is used for informational purposes only.