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Patriarchs In Black – Reach For The Scars Award winner

Patriarchs In Black
Reach For The Scars
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 04 July 2022, 4:16 AM

Dan Lorenzo, who began his career with thrasher HADES, is a human riff machine who has been highly prolific since his return to the music scene upon the release of VESSEL OF LIGHT’s debut EP in 2017, a project he formed with ANCIENT VVISDOM’s Nathan Opposition. It hasn’t even been a full year since his release from another band of his, CASSIUS KING’s 2021 metal romp “Field Trip,” and he has already returned. This time the moniker is PATRIARCHS IN BLACK, a band he has formed with Johnny Kelly, a staple of the scene from legends TYPE O NEGATIVE, DANZIG, among many others.  Kelly was quoted as saying, “All roads lead to BLACK SABBATH.”

Important words, indeed because I would say that is a pretty damn accurate representation of the band, and album as a whole.  Are they a SABBATH clone?  No, they don’t actually sound similar to them but the same idea is there: huge riffs that combine doom, groove, and traditional heavy metal into one colossal, and catchy, sound. There are a shit ton of great guitarists in the metal world but few of them actually take the time to write actual, true to life guitar riffs.  Dan’s mastery over this art is second to none and “Reach For The Scars,” furthers cements his legacy.

In addition to Dan’s riffs and Johnny’s ever impressive drumming, the album is stacked to hell and back with some truly standout guest stars, for both vocals and bass.  All of them do an incredible job but I’m most excited by Karl Agell, the vocalist of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY on their classic album, “Blind.”  He sounds amazing and well within his element—it feels so good to hear his voice again.  His performance is energetic so it is obviously he enjoyed his time recording as well; he even has song writing credits.  Other vocalists include John Kosco (DROPBOX),  Rob Traynor (BLACK WATER RISING), Dewey Bragg (KILL DEVIL HILL), Dan Nastasi (NON-FICTION, MUCKY PUP), and Jimmy Gnecco (OURS).

Several bassist join Johnny in rhythm with a low end, including Eric J. Morgan(ex A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH), Dave Neabore (DOG EAT DOG), SCOTT LEPAGE (MISERY OF HATE, HADES), Jimmy Schulman (CASSIUS KING, HADES, VESSEL OF LIGHT),  and Dan himself on a couple of tracks. If this sounds too excessive and convoluted, I can assure you it is everything but.  Although each musician brings their own vibe to the music, the album remains extremely consistent across the board and never wanders off the beaten path.  With 10 tracks and about thirty-five minutes of run time, this isn’t an album that contains fluff or wasted time.  Every second is used to throw molten doomy, classic, metal into your face.

The album opens with “I’m The Dog,” which is a great intro track that provides a decent overview of what the listener can expect.  Johnny’s drums are loud, crisp and sharp.  Eric’s bass is earth shattering, alongside Dan’s crunchy yet smoothly played riffs.  Karl’s vocals work perfectly alongside the music, singing with the riffs and helping to provide optimum flow.  A clever clean intro begins the song just before Johnny and Eric light it on fire.  Lorenzo and Karl fan the flames of fire with their performances—the song is extremely catchy and captures the magic of metal without any pretenses.

Sing For The Devil?” is built upon a wall of sludge, provided by the muddy riffs of Lorenzo’s guitar and bass, of which he provides both for this song.  Kosco’s vocals are varied, going from low cleans to shouts and even screams.  It definitely adds a lot of heft to this short but balls out heavy song. “Submission Bell,” is one of my favorite songs on the album because of the doom/sludge inspired opening riffs and the crashing drums, which threatens to bring it all down yet holds it together.  The groove here is massive pushes the song ever forward.  Rob’s vocals have a nice stoner vibe to them, a sort of wiry attitude that fits right in with the music. The chorus will get stuck in your head and the guitar/bass near the end of the song are a knockout combination.

Built Of Misery,” is another favorite of mine—goddamn the riffs are FANTASTIC.  Dan just nails down that line between groove and heavy, slow and mid tempo, thick yet fluid.  I don’t know how he does it but clearly he and Karl have a rapport together because Karl sings his ass off as hard as Dan plays.  Johnny’s drums are also definitely a highlight—he compliments everything so well. I have to give credit for Eric’s massive bass tones too.  No offense to any of the other musicians involved because they all do a fine job but Lorenzo, Erick, Johnny and Karl make one hell of a team and I hope they do an entire album together one day.
he album’s mid point doesn’t slow at all: “This Damn War,” is a burner, what with the dual vocal approach from Kosco and Agell plus some slick as hell leads.  The song is energetic and faster paced and pairs well with the next track, “Mourning This Life.”  Bragg’s voice resonates well with the music, especially when the drums and riffs are of a singular vision and hammer it down.  The groove of this song reminds me a bit of 90’s bands like ALICE IN CHAINS, and that is never a bad thing.

Dan Nastasi’s vocals bring a punk/hardcore vibe to “Hate Your Life,” but I must say the band runs with the idea and the song is just as potent as the others.  The riffs are still thick and doomy but the cadence of the vocals and just the general feel is filled with attitude. “Demon Of Regret,” shows off Karl’s singing voice with a slight melodic tinge to it.  The style mixes with the most SABBATH inspired riffs on the album.  About halfway through the song, it becomes even more melodic, which segues into heavier waters with short but well placed leads.

I’m usually against album’s ending on a cover, as I think any album should take a final bow with original material but their cover of LED ZEPPELIN’sKashmir,” is so well done that it is an exception.  It doesn’t sound too far removed from the original but it is obviously heavier and sounds great with a modern coat of paint.  I know this is a much loved, classic song but I can’t imagine any fan not at least appreciating the cover.

PATRIARCHS IN BLACK’s “Reach For The Scars,” is a very strong debut that used the talented people involved to much potential.  Dan’s return to music has blessed the scene with many great albums and this one is among his best.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. I’m The Dog
2. Sing For The Devil?
3. The Submission Bell
4. Built Of Misery
5.  This Damn War
6.  Mourning This Life
7. Hate Your Life
8. Demon of Regret
9. Kashmir
Dan Lorenzo – Guitars, Bass
Johnny Kelly – Drums
Various guests – Vocals & Bass
Record Label: MDD Records


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