Even given the impressively rude health of the UK underground the last few years, Hull’s Black Tongue have made one of the most ferociously heavy records of the year in debut album The Unconquerable Dark.
It’s a stunningly brutal but still catchy collection of everything that made deathcore exciting, without resorting to any cut ’n’ paste formulas, and offering a few surprises to keep everything fresh and relevant. What’s most remarkable, however, is that the band started as a bit of a joke.
“Me and our vocalist Alex [Teyen] decided to write this song that was stupidly slow and stupidly heavy,” drummer Aaron Kitcher remembers. “It was kind of a joke. It’s still on Soundcloud now. It’s called XCrucifixX, and it was just a pisstake with straight edge lyrics… but then we decided it sounded pretty good! We’d all known each other since school, and so we decided to start the band properly.”
After two well-received EPs and some eyebrow-raising live performances, they caught the attention of US scene legends Suicide Silence, who took Black Tongue seriously enough to invite them out on tour in 2014.
“We did a one-off show with them in London and they were impressed with what they saw,” says Eddie. “They took us out as the opening band on their UK tour at the end of last year with Thy Art Is Murder and Fit For An Autopsy. When those two other bands couldn’t do the rest of the European tour we jumped in and just became really good friends with them.”
Such good friends, in fact, that SS vocalist Eddie Hermida even lent his not-inconsiderable vocal talents to the song *Vermintide *on the new album.
“Eddie just really wanted to be part of it, it was actually pretty easy to get sorted out,” says Aaron. “Of course it was great to have him be a part of it and the fact that he was so open about coming in and being part of it just goes to show what great guys they are. There was no big conversation, just one day Eddie said, ‘Let’s do this. I wanna be on the album!’ So we just did it on a day off.”
So it seems that this new straight-faced attitude towards their craft has paid off. *The Unconquerable Dark *proves Black Tongue possess more depth, layers and stylistic shifts than many of their more commercially successful peers. And there are more surprises to come.
“We didn’t just want to do the same old thing,” sighs guitarist Eddie Pickard. “That’s why we take a lot of time adding melody to the guitar parts and actually having a lot of emotion in the vocals. Originally we were taking the hardcore route on our first EP, but we made a conscious effort to do something different as we didn’t want to go too far down that road. We’re still trying to get the balance right and find a uniquely original sound of our own.”
It’s clear that Black Tongue aren’t under any internal pressure to conform to any sort of genre rules.
“We never expected it to get this far,” shrugs Aaron. “We just thought we’d make some stupidly heavy music, and when it began to take off we listened to lots of Mastodon and Alice In Chains and incorporated that music into our sound.”
They may have started as a joke, but just one listen to *The Unconquerable Dark *is enough to convince you that Black Tongue are a serious proposition.
*The Unconquerable Dark *is out now via Century Media