Black Map is a supergroup consisting of guitarist Mark Engles (Dredg), drummer Chris Robyn (Far), and vocalist/bassist Ben Flanagan (Trophy Fire). The band formed last year and have toured along the likes of Chevelle, ††† (Crosses), Tombs, Pelican, and Kill Devil Hill. They released their debut LP, And We Explode…, on October 27th via Minus Head Records, which you can purchase on iTunes and Bandcamp. You can check out Alternative Nation’s review of the album below.
The album kicks off with “Code,” a groovy rocker with sludge and 90’s alternative qualities. Imagine the bass-heavy sound of Dozer mixed with the catchy vocal melodies of Filter. On “Chinaski,” the group continues the energetic pace of the opener track, yet leaves room for more expansive verses and soaring choruses. So far all tracks on this release seem to be viable radio singles, but “I’m Just the Driver” might take just the cake due to its kick-ass rhythm and reflective lyrics. “Gold” explores a less conventional guitar riff during the track’s pre chorus, which can be accredited to the outstanding Mark Engles. “And We Explode pt. 1” possesses the same amount of rocking elements as the previous songs, but also throws in some experimental noisy soundscapes.
For “Eyes on the Prize,” the sound resembles a more low-key space rock atmosphere, but the distortion picks right back up for “Melee.” One of the most memorable tracks off this LP, “Head for the Hills,” would be perfect for a live arena rock setting. Black Map goes a bit more punk on “Gemini,” which so far is the most fast-paced piece and would be perfect for a mosh pit.
Further down the hole, “Stranger” contrasts a choppy, angsty verse with a slowed down, melancholic chorus. Moments like these make it seem as if Deftones’ Chino Moreno would be a huge fan and inspiration of the group. “Ropes” resembles a more garage rock, post-hardcore tune with the very catchy lyrics of “let’s tie our ropes together/so tight they never sever.” If for some reason you thought this album had too many hard rock compositions, you’ll be relieved by the closer, “And We Explode pt.2,” a relaxing and evolving piece.
This album practically holds every characteristic necessary for an alternative rock musical masterpiece, which should come as to no surprise. When you combine the heaviness of Dredg, the experimental aspect of Far, and the melodies of The Trophy Fire, you get some form of perfection. While the non-conventionalities of And We Explode… may not earn Black Map an explosion of mainstream success or radio airplay, this LP definitely has the potential and wow-factor to hook anyone interested in rock, metal, or bands with an edge.
Overall score: 9 out of 10