Black Sheep Wall's 'Songs for the Enamel Queen' Is an Unexpected Sludge Metal Standout

Black Sheep Wall's 'Songs for the Enamel Queen' Is an Unexpected Sludge Metal Standout
8
A six-year break between albums was worth it for what is arguably Black Sheep Wall's best record. So much has changed about this group, yet the core elements of their sound remain intact. Trading in slow plodding riffs for unorthodox melodies makes Songs for the Enamel Queen the most vulnerable and sonically dense album in the band's catalogue. Songs for the Enamel Queen is a celebration of the band's past while also being a step forward into new sonic territory.  

Songs for the Enamel Queen is a sickening experience of heartache and loss. Long-gone are the bathroom jokes and shots at the Lambgoat community. Songs like "Ren" and "New Measures of Failure" capture the feelings and despair that come with self-loathing and fractured relationships in a way that few heavy bands can articulate. This is never more present than on the nightmarish "Mr. Gone," featuring vocals from several of the band's former members, where a collage of different voices are used to create the effect of a troubled inner dialogue.

Songs for the Enamel Queen is full of heaviness, but it comes in unexpected ways. There are plenty of classic Black Sheep Wall riff moments like the sludgy plods on "Concrete God" and the opening tapping runs on "Human Shaped Hole," but that is only telling a small part of the story. Instead of walls of feedback and distortion, some of the heaviest moments are the trumpet arrangement on "Ren" or the shoegaze melodic outro on "Prayer Sheet for Wound and Nail," the latter made all the more impactful by the vocal line "I honestly thought things would be better, I don't like who I am."

Songs for the Enamel Queen is the perfect beginning to Black Sheep Wall's second act. Just when one thought things couldn't get more dire than their previous offering, I'm Going to Kill Myself, Songs for the Enamel Queen takes things to a completely different territory. The album perfectly honours the past of sludge and doom while blowing open the door to where the future lays for this band sonically. Songs for the Enamel Queen is an unexpected standout from one of sludge metal's most underappreciated bands. (Silent Pendulum)