Thursday, February 25, 2021

Black Rock Deep Dive: Black Death – Black Death (1984).

March 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( We’re going to do a deep dive into an album I’ve mentioned at least three times when going into Black rock and heavy metal. On October 31, 1984, an all-Black Cleveland-based band released the self-title album Black Death. While the band had been around for seven years prior to its release, it wouldn’t be the gas to get Black Death steamrolling the 80s metal scene.

It’s a shame really because this album is an extremely good piece of old school, heavy metal. Instead, the band stayed together four years after Black Death’s release before dissolving.

The state of the band afterward is what you’d expect. One member continued to play music in the same version as the original. Then another member revives the original band to play locally while the other key members wants the band to do new albums and songs. It continued like this until the late 2000s.

Let’s jump back a few decades to late-1984 and the seven tracks of Black Death.

Black Death (1984): The A-Side

The best way to go into old albums for me is to hit up the A-side and B-side separately. You’d figure that there’s a reason that some songs are put on a B-side. They’re usually the extra cuts to bring the record into the LP time frame. Black Death is a different beast.

Our A-side offerings include “Night of the Living Dead,” “The Hunger,” “When Tears Run Red (From Love Lost Yesterday),” and “Fear No Evil.” Now, the A-side is no slouch as far as delivering pulsing heavy metal. “Night of the Living Dead” is stock but fun hard rocker.

The band is tight all-around on this track. If you come in not expecting Pink Floyd, King Crimson, or King X then you’re not going to be disappointed. This is straight forward rock. “The Hunger” hits the ear a little differently. It’s a bit dark, there’s some innuendo, there’s a strong blues influence in this track. “The Hunger” comes off as slower paced but heavy.

Also, what Siki Spacek does with his voice on this track is great. Now if “The Hunger” was a little slow compared to “Night of the Living Dead,” then “When Tears Run Red (From Love Lost Yesterday)” will seem a bit on lethargic. This is 1984 and Black Death gives us a ballad. It isn’t bad at all but I wouldn’t say “This song is awesome!” It’s not a song I’d go full on defending.

The song that caps off the A-side, “Fear No Evil” picks the pace back up. Siki Spacek is doing some Rob Halford-adjacent stuff with his singing here and I enjoy it. Wailing and screeching at the zenith of a high note is something I dig.

Heaviest Songs: “The Hunger” and “Fear No Evil”

The B-Side

Black Death’s A-side gives you a good introduction to what the band plays and U.S’s offering to heavy metal in the 80s or late 70s hard rock.

Sometimes, you get some great stuff from a B-side and honestly, I would’ve loved an album that was purely in the vein of this side. It would’ve probably been one of the best metal albums of 1984—and that was a competitive year!

“Scream of the Iron Messiah” kicks off the B-side and it’s pretty much the best song on the album. It’s fast, aggressive, and the band is tight enough to keep the pace of the song. If there was a song I’d say defines Black Death, it would be “Scream of the Iron Messiah” hands down.

“Street Walker” is something that could’ve passed for a hard rock song with a lot more bite. It’s not the most imaginative song but Black Death gives you a song about the streets in rock form and it works. “Street Walker” shows that it can be done and it can be awesome. What I dig about this song—and really the production of the album overall—is that there is a good amount of grittiness to it.

This isn’t the cleanest, most polished album. It doesn’t sound plastic at all. The final track of the original album “Black Death” is a good closer. It’s heavy and it has that bite. I will say it’s lacking the aggression of “Scream of the Iron Messiah” but it’s the most grounded song on the album.

The A-sides could be pretty wild with the band doing different stuff with the songs. Meanwhile, the B-sides are like “We came to rock your block off so strap in somewhere.” These three songs are all what the whole album should’ve been.

Heaviest Songs: “Scream of the Iron Messiah” and “Street Walker”

Check Out the Bonus Tracks!

If you check it out on YouTube, Spotify, or iTunes, you’ll likely get the bonus tracks. If the B-side and these bonus tracks were the album, it would be a A-solid album. “Here Comes the Wrecking Crew” is a ridiculously heavy song. I’ve mentioned speed metal in other articles. It’s my favorite genre and “Here Comes the Wrecking Crew” is a great example of early 80s speed.

Another good example of this is “Taken By Force.” A lot of the bonus material nudges Black Death from heavy metal into speed metal and power metal territory. It’s a great listen to see what Black Death could been as an album if these songs made the A-side.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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