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Review: Blackstar - Barbed Wire Soul
Barbed Wire Soul

Label: Peaceville Records
Year released: 1997
Duration: 43:28
Tracks: 11
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 1.75/5

Review online: January 23, 2008
Reviewed by: Lars Christiansen
Readers Rating
Barbed Wire Soul

Rated 2.5/5 (50%) (6 Votes)

Forming quickly after the release of the final Carcass album "Swansong", Blackstar featured the same line-up as the aforementioned album (minus Bill Steer, and adding ex-Cathedral bassist Mark Griffiths), with Jeff Walker and the boys wanting to move well away from the monster that was Carcass with a totally different sound. To be honest, a lot of fans would've preferred "Swansong" to have been released under a different name too, with its overtly melodic and rocking sound catching in the throat of the 'Reek of Putrefaction' beshirted masses of infected virulency.

Soundwise, Blackstar basically took the "Swansong" blueprint to an even more melodic level with a few extra dodgy curveballs that really fail to hit the spot. The riffs that are on offer have an almost hard-rockish edge at times, with even Jeff Walker's vocal tract easing off on the gristly growl to add a slightly more tuneful resonance. The main problem for me is that the whole album is laden with (at times) overly hooky riffs and ultra melody laden solo work by the admittedly talented Carlo Regadas, and it's almost as if they're trying too hard to be commercial. The drums are still fully steeped in metal glory, but quite often this sounds more akin to the likes of Down or a latter-day southern rock tinged Corrosion of Conformity. However, I'd still class it as a Heavy Metal record, thanks to the urgency of their delivery, occasional trad metal riffage and overall thicker, meatier sound of the guitars. The things that push this album down however are the usage of weird instruments (horns and saxophone anyone?) that stain a couple of the tracks, but even more so the overwhelming fact that this below par album was actually born from some of the same brains behind the life affirming Carcass album "Necrotism..." That said, it's still pretty hard to swallow, even when held on its own merits.

All in all, the album smacks of a band getting something out of their system that'd been festering away for a long time behind the decomposed behemoth that was Carcass. It's a really hard album to enjoy at all, even more so if you're as much as a Carcass fanatic as me.

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