Published Nov 04, 2014Dean Blunt still remains an enigma to most listeners these days. Having hung around in the shadows of experimental pop music both as a solo artist and formerly as one half of Hype Williams, his reclusive nature has created an air of mystery around both him and his work. It's something that directly correlates to how the man makes his music: drawing on everything from folk, to electronica, to hip-hop with some impressive sample digging, there is no set genre or form. On Black Metal, Blunt's style is still very difficult to classify, yet a hint more inviting and amicable than his last.
While Blunt's 2013 effort The Redeemer was a largely sombre affair, Black Metal covers a broader spectrum of emotions over its 13 tracks. Between "Lush" opening the record with a looped Big Star string arrangement, the fuzzy revelry of "Heavy" and the cathartic "I ain't worried 'bout nothing" refrain of the stark "Molly and Aquafina," Blunt's cautious optimism resonates throughout the first half of the disc. Of course, these lighthearted moments are expertly juxtaposed with those of darkness, ranging from tales of incarceration on leading single "50 Cent" and the gloomy dub of "Punk" or the forceful, sharp musings of a failed relationship that close out "X."
The ascent to Black Metal's candid climax is a lengthy one, laid out in the aforementioned "X" and the 13-minute "Forever." A repetitive piano figure and heavily reverberating drums interspersed with Blunt's steady baritone and collaborator Joanne Robertson's gentle crooning create tension that is only elevated on the glitchy, minimal "Country" and "Mersh." An intense moment of release from a solo tenor saxophone on "Grade" proves quite gratifying, much like the entirety of Black Metal once you crack Blunt's cryptic musical guise. (Rough Trade)