By: Sam Robinson
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Released on October 30, 2015 via Good Grief Records
Black International are a noisy force of post-punk and noise-rock fusion from Edinburgh in the from of duo Craig Peebles and Stewart Allan. Their sophomore effort A Lesson In Repression is a 13 track flow of punchy, thick and textured tracks with real noticeably noisy overtones, along with the consistency in the song structures.
‘Shining Swords’ kicks the record off with the flurrying drums of Craig Peebles, which lace nicely with the driving guitar work, the track comes of as a nice piece of post-punk with some extra Britishness that is certainly alluring with each listen.
This leads to one of the singles ‘A Fence To Keep People Out’, again demonstrating the effectiveness of the duo dynamic that Black International bring to the table with a thundering racket. Peebles’ drum work is definitely noticeable throughout, thumping and uncompromising in this track especially.
Undoubtedly the highlight of this record is ‘Animal Without Backbone’, with a bold riff to unleash the track in full, not too dissimilar to something The Jesus Lizard would have done. The jarring chorus that contrasts yet at the same time compliments the instrumentation, and continues to drive to its undeniable noise-rock climax.
The record often comes up for air from the rolling drums and distorted guitars with tracks such as ‘Panopticon’, ‘Inner Temple’ and ‘Tape Red Satan’, where Black International create short and surreal interlude tracks that are unsettling as they are interesting and refreshing amongst the many straight forward rock tracks on the album.
Outside of these interlude tracks and the few that make an initial impact in the record’s opening, A Lesson In Repression leaves a bit to be desired. By the end of the 13th track I feel little lasting impact is made, the instrumentation on this record despite the highlights can often be redundant and don’t stick in way that the sound in theory should.
That is in fact why the record maybe missed the mark for me. The sound Black International have is very solid in its sonic depth and more specifically the drum patterns throughout each track, which still remain refreshing right to the end. However I feel the ingenuity in the instrumentation and song writing is lacking and often feels just too similar to the track before, leaving an unfortunate blur as the latter half of the album plays out.
Perhaps if the band apply the class musicianship to some interesting, maybe even jarring song structures then Black International would really be onto something. But with A Lesson In Repression this may be a development we’ll see in future releases, as this record is a display of influences and excellent musicianship, but not of innovation.