Review of Black Map’s ‘And We Explode…’

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.

black map

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

Bio: Riley began as an avid reader of the site since 2008 and made the switch to a reporter around the time of the name change to AlternativeNation in 2013. He is a fan of the grunge genre and is always exploring the depths of metal, enjoying subgenres such as industrial, progressive, alternative, doom, post, stoner, nu, and avant-garde. Riley has been playing guitar for over 6 years, been in an Alice in Chains cover band, and is currently majoring in Recording Arts/Music Production. He began the site by posting the setlists for the site and transitioned to reporting news, writing reviews, doing interviews, and running both the metal section and Modern Artists Showcase. Riley also spends his time managing local bands: Mothlight, Diamondstein, Soda Pants, and With Age.   Fun Facts: Riley went to the same high school as Eddie Vedder. Riley’s first band was called Melting Pot of Human Emotion, which later changed to Dictator Willie. Riley enjoys puppies, kittens, and listening to angsty music on rainy days.   Reach out to Riley at or