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Black Sites - In Monochrome Award winner

Black Sites
In Monochrome
by Anamaria Carla Ionita at 19 March 2017, 3:53 PM

Now that I got that off my chest… BLACK SITES is a heavy/progressive metal band form Chicago, USA, a "pet project" of Mark Sugar, as I was led to understand, for which he gathered a few veterans of the metal scene and tried to make something in black and white, or "In Monochrome.

When they started working on the album, I assume they though of it to be either black or white - either great guitar riffs, or none. Fortunately, they went with great riffs, which blasted my ears with joy. 
First song on the album, "M Fisto Waltz" started with a slow piano. I thought that was the intro, just a nice, calm sounding piano, but soon enough, got accompanied by a few notes on an electrical guitar which, by the 40th second mark exploded into a slow, yet powerful and amazingly satisfying riff. Drums kicked in to help out and while I was still staring at my arm hairs getting up, the next song on the album, "Dead Languages" had started, but it did it with grace, continuing on the riffs from the last second of "M Fisto Waltz". Very well done, guys, I tip my hat off to that.

Upon listening to more of the songs, I notice one thing they have in common except for the great riffs with which I started this review: they manage to make a very subtle and good switch from a slow-paced acoustic guitar and calm voice to a powerful and heavy electric with the vocal's style changing accordingly. "Hunter Gatherer" is a prime example of this, in case the first track was not enough of a demonstration. My old-school senses are tingling!

I find myself pleasantly surprised and highly enjoying what 4 people were able to create; the songs have a depth and a complexity of their own which can easily go toe-to-toe with other bands that have far more members; and still be able to maintain a very clear and melodic sound. That combined with those riffs creates a band, which is really worth listening to, especially if passionate about this genre. Besides the songs mentioned above, I must also mention "The Tides". A great, calm song for the first 2 and half minutes followed by a very methodical and powerful guitar and bass, for the late half of the song. It really felt like listening to two different songs, both very good and enjoyable, but somehow coagulated into just one. 

Overall, the band sounds great and deserves much more media awareness than what I was able to find. I wish them the best of luck, and on the next album, I really hope for a longer version of "M Fisto Waltz". That would be awesome

Songwriting  -  9

Originality -  10
Memorability - 10
Production -  9

4 Star Rating

1. M Fisto Waltz
2. Dead Languages
3. Monochrome
4. Burning Away The Day
5. Hunter Gatherer
6. Watching Your Fall
7. Locked Out – Shut Down
8. In The Woods
9. The Tides
John Picillo - Bass
Chris Avgerin - Drums
Mark Sugar - Guitars, Vocals
Ryan Bruchert  - Guitar
Record Label: Mascot Records


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Edited 01 February 2023

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