Live review from Underground Heavy #8:
Any band touting themselves as ‘progressive’ today is an interesting idea. It instantly raises the question of precisely what they mean by the word in their particular case. Do they mean lots of keyboards and effects combined with the “let’s play endless solos” attitude of prog-rock in the 70s, or is it merely an attitude towards music, that’s not standard but stops short of experimental?
In this case, it turns out, it’s really neither. Blackwine’s sound is a nostalgic-seeming mix of somewhat psychedelic guitars, a Black Sabbath-like chugging feeling in their songs, and Deep Purple-esque hazy guitar tones. This is put into stark relief by their singer’sextremely Pop style of singing and his, frankly, very thin voice; it didn’t quite all fit together, despite the fact that he does have some chops. They have been around for a long time, so people must like them for this to have been a worthy endeavour over the years, but I’m sorry to say that there is little to engage with and not much freshness in their sound, and they end up really dating themselves. Progressive metal, it doesn’t sound like.
This is not to say that they’re not skilled; as I’ve said, the singer does have some skill, but is let down by his voice. The rest of the band are highly competent, and the guitarist can play like a semi-virtuoso, and has a knack for big, bombastic solos. It’s just that it’s not all terribly interesting. 愛恨交戰 started off very interestingly, almost sounding like something that Primus without Les Claypool’s slap-bass would, but descended into a disappointingly poppy, at which point it progressed to lose the features that would differentiate it from standard radio fare. 不舍不棄 possibly best encapsulates their problem – it sounds like a 80s soft rock Santana song, and there’s a feeling of going over covered ground.
Still, there must be a reason that they’ve survived as a band all these years, and the answer might possibly lie in the singer’s ability to handle a crowd – they certainly did that well. So, regardless of what I’ve said here, they do appear to love playing music and having fun on stage, which is good enough reason to play music. Shine on, you crazy diamonds.