The Blank Canvas - Dark Mirage

01 May 2022 - Knut

Alternative Metal/Industrial Metal/Post Metal/Metalotronic | Drown Within Records/Vollmer Industries/Zero Produzioni | Release date: 18 Feb 2022

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Listen to this in one sitting. It feels like a rollercoaster ride while at the same time looking through a kaleidoscope as sparks of colors fly through your brain. It is fast and vibrant like energetic sludge metal or acid hard rock. It is the soundtrack of running away from a burning world with Mad Max´s Fury Road playing in the background. Tsunamis of synths ignite your imagination, urgent, almost breathless, clean vocals, vigorous drumming, fast melodic bass and a guitar sliding in and out of the soundscapes with riffs and solos.

These Italians really have found their footing with their sophomore album. It is not like their previous, Vantablack, held anything back, but on this album the mixing and mastering are clearer and give every instrument a single and more pronounced place in the sonics. When we write about music, we always like to guide our readers by defining a genre an album belongs to, as do bands, shops and labels. But this album is, as the previous, close to unclassifiable.

I would describe it as sludge metal without heavy riffing based on synthwave, post hardcore and with strong industrial metal and cyberpunk induced in the mixture. And it is also very alternative in the metal world. We can just determine that it is obviously post-many-genres music. They probably do not care when creating this inventive type of music, they just make it and then we can relish in the imaginative music. It`s like when the Norwegians of Shining released their first. What is this, we asked. O, well it’s Blackjazz as they said themselves. Maybe The Blank Canvas´ music is Metalotronic? Never heard of the genre, but it might be close to what it is.

The way synths are used on this album is spectacular. The album opens with ”The Cage of Fireflies” as the synth sends some static sparkles through the air before the hard and heavy guitar hits, the intense vocals find it place - the ever-present synths pierce through the forceful drums and fast bass as the guitar delivers a melodic theme. The song delves into a holding pattern with repetitive guitar before the synths dissolves the sonics with a melodic theme. As for the rest of the album every instrument play very fast and energetically supporting the urgent vocals.

Something that is quite amazing throughout the album is that even if the music is very fast, there are enough pauses and flashes to light up the soundscape and give place to melodies driving the pace forward. As is the case with the second song ”Black Lotus” where the wah-wah effects from the guitar lead into harmonization at the same time as the synths swirls and gives you the feeling of a fairground ride. The drums are forcing the sonics forward followed by a bass so deep it seems that the strings are tuned slackest as possible and are still played. We go through a tumbling section with sound-effects in a static spiral while the drummer is hitting the edge of the drum diving into the melodic chaos shoving forward. A breathless urgency from the vocals, I forgot the reason why!.

The raging continues in ”Epitaph for a Friend” where the bass and drums are pushing the bedlam forward joined by guitar and synths before it dissolves for a while, following the singer on his demanding take on the melody. It leads into a high pitched, unbelievably fast solo before being drowned out by heavy riffs which are overtaken by the synths to support the vocals. The synth is wavy while the guitar is hammering out riffs.

”Mirage” gives a minute to catch breath with widespread and sparkling synths before echoing synths open ”Unknown Star System” soon joined by guitar riffing, the ever brilliant drums and bass while the synths change into dissonance mode. The synths make a monumental and capacious soundscape driven forward by the rhythm section. This is a track where the synths really take the lead and the pace is slower while the vocals are more insistent then urgent. Towards the end there is a heavy nod to sludge metal.

The next three songs hold back nothing to further give the impression of confusing mayhem and uproar. ”Here for a While” has a foreboding start and a very tight sound with chorus vocals and a thundering solo by the bass. The synths linger, hover and lead to a chaotic end with heavy hammering sonics. “We are born in pain” is the opening line of”Attack Decay Sustain Release” where the bass drives the fast pace, drums steadying the sonics while synths and guitars swirl. The vocals are breathless before the song ends with industrial themed effects.

The album comes to a close with ”Lands, a song that is opened by majestic synths with droplets in the background. The synths are heavy as they lay the foundation for whispering vocals before the sonics widens up to an extensive soundscape. This really is a song about the apocalyptic end by repeating constantly “the end is here”. A chilling song that really is the soundtrack to apocalyptic events surrounding these times. The disharmonic sonics race towards a final crescendo, probably predicting that there really is no escape.

If there ever was an album that deserved to be labeled tour de force it is this. Enough said.