One of the most even discs of this new year, The Black Mariaâ€™s â€œLead Us To Reasonâ€ is the latest in Victory emo bands revolutionizing the genre. Everything has the gentle sound of the late nineties alternative scene, but the Fear Factory meets Shadows Fall sound of more current days. The overarching synthesizer present in a track like â€œOrgansâ€ works perfectly in playing off of and accentuating the emotive and Peart-like bass lines of Mike. However, however much The Black Maria puts into every track, by the fourth track (Our Commitmentâ€™s A Sickness), even with RATM-esque vocals the general sound that The Black Maria puts out starts to stale. The only thing that saves the aforementioned track from the dust-bin is the extremely capable double-bass of Derekâ€™s kit. Breaking through the ceiling created with the first few tracks on â€œLead Us To Reasonâ€, the expertly arranged â€œThe Lines We Crossâ€ show a new side to the band, a good segway into the second half of the disc.
Increasing the intensity of â€œLead Us To Reasonâ€, â€œMirrors and Cameraâ€ is pushed forward by the dual vocals of Chris and Kyle, and â€œSirensâ€ is simultaneously the most radio-friendly and most intense of the tracks to be found on â€œLead Us To Reasonâ€. What is impressive about The Black Maria is the technical ability that is to be found on this disc â€“ even in the lightest-sounding part, a tempest of guitar lines and drums layered deeply are to be found, belying the overall sound of the section. While there are strong and weak tracks, the mastering is top notch, and the interplay between the various elements in the Black Maria is strong in an era where every band member tries to be the one that is heard on the CD.
There has been a firestorm of media coverage about The Black Maria, and unlike most buzzes, Victory has really done the right thing in promoting TBM to the next level. While there are moments of weakness and a complacency that really needs stamped down, â€œLead Us To Reasonâ€ has those seeds that are essential to the future success of a band. This is not another My Chemical Romance, not a cheap attempt by Victory in trying to milk a dying genre, but in all honesty, a solidly made CD by a band that can only increase in talent from here on out.
Top Tracks: Organs, Rats in the Prison
The Black Maria â€“ Lead Us To Reason / 2005 Victory Records / 11 Tracks / http://www.theblackmaria.com /http://www.victoryrecords.com / Reviewed 16 January 2005