Dark Music Review – Black Sheep
Review Written By Casey Douglass
Sanguine were a band that I’d not even heard of a month ago. Some light YouTube music video watching before a gig at the start of the month presented them as probably worth watching live but I'll admit that I didn't instantly click with them. After seeing them live however, I came to appreciate them a whole lot more.
Sanguine is a 4-piece metal/rock band that hails from Devon and is made up by Tarin Kerrey, Nick Magee, Matt Feld, and Ross Andrew, and they put out some seriously ear-worming tunes. Since Black Sheep arrived around five days ago, I’ve listened to hardly anything else. That doesn’t often happen to me so I know it has well and truly penetrated my audio gland. I think the standout feature of the music for me is lead singer Tarin’s vocals. She has a syrupy sweet voice in which she sings many of the lyrics of each song, but in other instances, she drops into an amazing rip roaring yell. In some tracks, this yell almost seems to take on an “overtone singing” style aspect, managing to be both light and dark at the same time. The best way I can describe it is that, mid bellow, Tarin’s voice could probably flay the skin from your bones, but also kiss it better at the same time. The interplay with Nick’s growly shouted vocals that frequently occurs throughout Black Sheep is also a most welcome dance of sound, bouncing off each other to create interest and impact.
As far as the broad feel of the album, there is a decent split between the more rawkish heavy songs and the more chilled and quietly introspective ones. The opening track “Breaking Out” gets things off to a flying start, the warbling swells of guitar, punchy drumming and Tarin’s amazing yells punching the listener in the gut and saying “Listen up!” The next few tracks are also in the heavy punchy vein, from the ear-worming “du op du op” (for want of a better word) section of “Pretty Girl”, to the bombastic drums and catchy riffage of “Save Me”, they are songs that are best played at a volume loud enough for you to feel the vibrations through the floor.
Track five “Carousel” sees a slight departure from the heaviness, a quieter and more playful track in which the vocals and tempo do a great job of creating the audio impression of the titular carousel. It’s a rousing track, and the crescendo around the midpoint is another seriously ear-wormy bit of music, the guitar solo, pluckiness and drums carrying the lyrics into your “Rattle around my head for the rest of the day” mental space. The other quieter tracks are also as skilfully made, the ethereal “Do you see me” lyric of “Breathe Out”, the airy vocals and gentle guitar of “The Blue” and the slowly building euphoria of “Whole World” are all fantastic tracks.
If I had to choose a favourite track (and I haven’t mentioned every track above), it’s a tough choice between “Breaking Out” and the titular album track “Black Sheep”. I think “Black Sheep” edges it. A rumbling heavy start is joined by Tarin’s sweet vocals with the odd touch of rawk. She is soon joined by Nick at the chorus, which is where she goes full supersonic. I particularly liked the lyrics of “Black Sheep”, the distorted whispers of Nick saying: “I feel like I don’t belong here” and “The people who surround me wouldn’t notice if I died.” These words all tap into various dark feelings I am sure many of us feel or have felt. The context of Tarin’s screams takes on the extra aspect of pent up rage and frustration if you really focus on the words. Nick, by coincidence, found a dead sheep on Dartmoor and had recently been given a crash course in bone carving. The end result is the carved sheep skull on the cover of the album that was a perfect fit for the already decided album title of Black Sheep. I love these kinds of dark coincidences. Well, I seem to have talked myself into liking “Black Sheep” even more than when I started writing this section. It’s funny how analysing why you like something can increase your sense of connection with it.
If you couldn’t tell from the tone of the last however many words (around 700, don’t be lazy Casey, use the word count tool!), I really rate Black Sheep and would give it a fantastic 5/5. If you enjoy bands with a good range, catchy songs and darkness seeping through even the most light-hearted of words, Sanguine are well worth checking out. Their music videos are also well worth a watch. You can see the video of “Save Me” below with interesting footage from director Tyson Wade Johnston's award winning sci-fi short film 'Lunar' :
You can also watch the lyric video for “Black Sheep” below:
Be sure to check out Sanguine live if the opportunity arises. They are an energetic band that know how to put on a show, as you can hopefully see from this gif I created from footage I was able to record at their Norwich gig:
Visit Sanguine at their website here for places you can buy Black Sheep and other merch like cool t-shirts and caps.
I was given a free copy of the album to review.
Album Title: Black Sheep
Release Date: 29th January 2016
Label: Omn Label Service