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Black Roze - Spiritual Hell

Black Roze
Spiritual Rose
by Kira Schlechter at 02 December 2019, 4:48 AM

One would have pretty high hopes for something described as “Female-Fronted Sleaze/Goth/Classic Rock/Metal.” BLACK ROZE, from Kent. U.K., sometimes lives up to those expectations on their new album “Spiritual Hell,” but at times, those same expectations are left unmet. They first got together in 2015 and then put out a three-track EP “Pleasure & Pain,” featuring the video single “In the Darkness” (which appears in two versions on their full-length debut). There are some hits and misses on this first big effort.

The lead-off, “Obscenity,” has a nice dirty raw sound with plenty of bottom, but the snare drums are too loud and the rhythm lags a bit. It’s a very pertinent commentary on situations in the Middle East and elsewhere where the innocent are victims of war crimes and religious hypocrisy, and is set to a fitting military-style marching tempo. Viixen speak-sings effectively in the breakdown, and she has a decent range to her straight-up soprano.

“Godz ‘n’ Queenz” has a big beefy groove and an alternating snarling-ripping chorus. Viixen revels in being herself, being different, being a badass, but if the vocal mix were cleaner, it’d be so much easier to hear that – there’s so much bottom end that it drowns out what treble there is. “Why Don’t You” starts with a terrific drum and bass bit and is better mixed. It’s a snide kiss-off, very British in its way, melodic and catchy and to-the-point.

The slow, bluesy “Soul on Fire” features Viixen at her aching, rasping, soulful best – it’s theatrical bordering on camp, but in a very good way. It could use a whole lot less of that ubiquitous snare and a whole lot more cleaning up of the vocal mix – dirty is fine, but not at the expense of hearing your singer as best we can. The tempo change and corresponding change in mood later on in the track, from self-pitying to defiant, is a clever touch.

“Snow White Angel” pairs Viixen and Baz in a rather awkward dueting context. She seems to be holding back to make room for him – he’s adequate but is not the singer she is – and it doesn’t benefit either one of them especially well. “In the Darkness (Hell Version)” showcases the full catch and cry of Viixen’s voice, but again, if the words and mix were cleaner, we’d be able to fully appreciate it. Here the pickup in tempo spoils the mood a little, although her snarling is effective and the ragged group singing in the chorus is raw and has a certain appeal.

“So Sleazy” has a sound that blends an ‘80's sound with a certain ‘50's one too, and is lots of fun (that line, “she had a tattoo on her cheek,” begs the question: which one?). And again, if her vocal was more out there and clearer, you’d get the humor – and enjoy the killer plot twist more, too. “Lost” has an interesting chorus, pairing the guys’ crooning, almost sweet backing vocals with a heavy, pounding groove, but if they’d be louder, the contrast would be more pronounced and again, more effective. Viixen, too, could just have more power and projection overall too – she looks awesome, so let’s have the voice match up.

The reprise of “In the Darkness,” this time the “Spiritual Version,” is kind of unnecessary, but here, for once, you can hear Viixen’s voice a little better. She sings with nice poignancy, and the organ and acoustic guitar make for a better instrumental mixture altogether. The cry in her voice is really marked and adds to the emotional impact. All in all, when you have a distinctive singer, with unique phrasing, diction, and delivery, you’ve got to adjust your sonics accordingly. BLACK ROZE has a little way to go in achieving that.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Obscenity
2. Godz ‘n’ Queenz
3. Why Don’t You
4. Soul on Fire
5. Snow White Angel
6. In the Darkness (Hell Version)
7. Curse of the Black Roze
8. So Sleazy
9. Lost
10. In the Darkness (Spiritual Version)
Viixen - Vocals
Baz Rose - Guitar
Jaime Cortinas - Guitar, Keyboards
Steve Rankin - Bass
Vic Finch - Drums
Record Label: Dr. John Surgery


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