Black Ice Terrible Birds

All bands are influenced by those who came before them, but only some, like California’s Black Ice, wear those influences so markedly on their sleeves. With an opening track ("The Stillness”) that culls the musical sound of the Cure and combines it with the vocal stylings of Siouxsie and the Banshees, the stage is set for Terrible Birds — a nine-song album that sounds as if it should have been recorded and released almost three decades ago. But don’t let that persuade you, Black Ice are competent musicians, and while they definitely embrace that late ’70s goth sound, they also punk it up a bit; the upbeat cuts have enough edge to them to still be relevant and interesting today — though anyone who’s been around long enough will undoubtedly be unable to shake the sense of nostalgia instilled here. These aggressive songs then make way for several more ambient tracks, which are rich, dense, sample-laden affairs filled with mysterious sounds that drift from the background to foreground to back again. Black Ice’s lyrical content is dark and poetic, which elevates the band above many of their modern peers. Everything on Terrible Birds feels deliberate, thought out and calculated — from the songwriting to the mix and other production values. That said, there is no doubt that Black Ice could make a career out of channelling old ghosts and recreating this album over and over again, but what remains to be seen is if this obviously talented quintet will be content to simply do so. (Hungry Eye)