By Justin C. Welcome to another installment of my random series of Metal-Adjacent Reviews(tm). This time, I'm going to talk about Black Wing, an electronic solo project by Dan Barrett, the fellow behind the somewhat-more-metal Have a Nice Life. Both of these projects are out on The Flenser, hence the aforementioned metal adjacency.By Justin C.
Welcome to another installment of my random series of Metal-Adjacent Reviews(tm). This time, I'm going to talk about Black Wing, an electronic solo project by Dan Barrett, the fellow behind the somewhat-more-metal Have a Nice Life. Both of these projects are out on The Flenser, hence the aforementioned metal adjacency.
I have pretty eclectic music tastes, but truth be told, I'd probably be tempted to skip over something categorized as a "depressive chillwave" album. But I got sucked in by the striking album artwork for Black Wing's "...Is Doomed", and the fact that The Flenser is handling this. No matter what they put out, it's bound to be interesting, and I'd have to categorize this album as well beyond "interesting". The style may be electronic, but its messy, beating heart is big enough to blot out the sun. There's a mathematical precision to the music, but there's also Dan Barrett's voice, be it solo, processed, or presented as a choir, adding an inescapable hook and emotional grounding.
I have to be honest at this point: The previously released track "My Body Betrayed Me" was a huge draw for me when getting into this album. Barrett has mentioned that he was suffering from some health problems while recording this. As part of the press material, he explained, "I was dripping a lot of blood all over the place. It was all very undramatic and fleshy and strange." As I'm writing this, I'm also going through a strange, often-maddening health crisis of sorts, and the heart-on-its-sleeve lyrics of this song hit me like an industrial-strength narcotic. Lines like, "I know I'm dead / but do I care? / I was barely there / and now, I'm less" take on extra weight when your body is throwing out all manner of strange test results and treatment-resistant pain. I think I would have loved this song anyway--it's direct, elegant, and powerful--but I definitely had a hole in my heart perfectly shaped to receive this song. (I wouldn't be surprised if I also had a hole burned in my hard drive from listening to this on repeat. And possibly a literal hole in my cardiac organ. I don't think the doctors have ruled that out yet).
That said, there's plenty to get into here even if you're strictly a metal person and/or not currently being betrayed by your body. The title track, as promised by the album title, is in fact dark and doomy, even if it's not in a Sabbath-y or Saint Vitus-y kind of way. The darkness is punctuated by a certain amount of melodic lightness, and that goes for most of the music on this album. It's melancholy, but there are moments of meditation, and perhaps even a sense of redemption. Or maybe it comes down to what I heard the great philosopher Chris Cornell say in an interview, explaining the appeal of dark music. I'm paraphrasing from memory, but he basically said, "You hear depressing music, realize you're not the only person who ever felt that way, and guess what? You feel a little better."
So do you need some music to put on in the car on a coming sunny, fall day, when you're just not sure how you feel about life and what it's offering you at the moment? Something that elevates you even if it's describing a messier, sadder reality? Dan Barrett's got you covered. Highly, highly recommended.