If you ask most people what industrial metal is, few will answer correctly and even fewer will know which bands represent this metal subgenre. In fact, and at the top of his / her head, the regular metal fan will name Rammstein or Pain as industrial when those bands are everything but and ignore real industrial stalwarts like Godflesh, KMFDM, Ministry, Oomph! or Killing Joke, among countless other more obscure names.
Instead of pretending to know what industrial is all about, Portuguese act Process of Guilt help give a new image to the genre with the intelligent and two-ton heavy “Black Earth”. First things first: “Black Earth” is not an innovation, but what is these days? The band blends a raw chunk of Godflesh-style industrial with an über-aggressive but slow sludge sound and a doomy vibe on the side. Needless to say, the pounding of industrial guitars, chaotic sludge touches, and the lethargic tempo of doom metal create a relentless and frigid record, not to mention the band’s heaviest so far.
The opener “(No) Shelter” is that and everything else in between, so cold and heavy-sounding that it is, but then “Feral Ground” only adds more fuel to the fire with its unstoppable grinding structure. Coming up next, “Servant” is a doom exercise that allows the band to experiment a bit more while down-tuning the pace without ever becoming monotonous, while the follow-up “Black Earth” walks a more sludge and industrial oriented path.
Finally, “Hoax” returns to a sentient industrial landscape that threatens to go on and on and on. Santos’ haunting, raspy, and Broadrick-like stiff voice finds little comfort in David’s callous guitar work, while both Correia’s drums and Rato’s bass lines provide the perfect frame to contain all the calculated aggression that “Black Earth” delivers effortlessly.
“Black Earth” is exciting, at least if you consider the idea of a rusty, dull knife being shoved into your eardrums exciting. The record shows how much the band has progressed in 15 years, without fear of going all-in playing one of the most overlooked and unpopular (let alone listener-friendly) music genres.
2017 has been a vintage year so far regarding metal music all over the world. Portugal proved to be no exception with bands like The Ominous Circle, Analepsy, Corpus Christii and Sinistro releasing top tier albums since the beginning of the year. Even so, Process Of Guilt new “Black Earth” seems to have waited for the right time to be released, and the end result is a nearly perfect record. There’s no risk in saying that “Black Earth” could very well be the best Portuguese metal record of 2017.