Professor Black - Sunrise
High Roller Records
Atmospheric Stoner
8 songs (43'34")
Release year: 2018
Reviewed by Alex

Only one year after its release, but I am still determined to cover one of Professor Black’s full length albums from 2018. I can’t quite say that Chris Black has been one of my favorite artists, but he is certainly one of the most intriguing and diverse. I think I covered close to half dozen of projects and collectives Chris participated in or led. Aktor, High Spirits, Pharaoh are on the list. I was not happy when he buried (and really shortchanged the last album) Dawnbringer. My understanding is that not being willing to continue sorting his various music interests to different projects, Chris simply decided to start releasing everything under Professor Black moniker, something he used when he still served as a reviewer for venerable Metal Maniacs. Here my understanding ends as to why the end of 2018 saw the simultaneous release of three (!) full-lengths at the same time. Perhaps there was a lot of pent up material Chris needed to share. I had to pick one … and settled on Sunrise, because its cover bears a deathly resemblance to Bathory, and I thought maybe Professor Black will channel some Viking metal on the album.

Alas, although some song passages and riffs are influenced by Bathory, Sunrise cannot be called Viking or epic. The prevailing style on the album is droning stoner, where songs are introduced and built around definitive chord based riffs. Sometimes they are syncopated, after some jungly detuned Americana introduction, as in Die by the Sun, and other times they are very rhythmic, driving suitable, your foot tapping on the floor almost uncontrollably. There is heaviness in choruses and hooks (Die by the Sun), and music tends to be more strapping (Closer to Death), but generally melodic fuzz reigns supreme (Gathering Stone). I liked the most when mood shifted to somber and pensive (Everyone Knows), or downright brooding (Fall from on High) with pulsating bass line. Professor Black stays very economical with his songwriting, with only a few flourishes, but when solos emerge they are of the more muscly gritty variety (Die by the Sun, Closer to Death). There is no unusual or unexpected here on Sunrise, and songs like Fall from on High could have really benefited from a bagpipe moment, the melody sounds so Irish. The vocals are almost typical Chris Black, ethereal, not from this world, sometimes squeaky high, but totally fitting to the atmospheric song dominated goodness that is this album.

Enjoy Sunrise for what it is, especially if you are familiar with Chris Black’s prior output. It is not very energetic, and rather dreamy, but goes over very well on a warm sunny early fall day.

Killing Songs :
No Way Back, Gathering Stone, Everyone Knows, Fall from on High
Alex quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Professor Black that we have reviewed:
Professor Black - You Bastard! reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
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