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Black Death - Black Death album review

African-American metal pioneers finally get a full airing

Cover art for Black Death - Black Death album

An unholy grail of the fertile mid-80s US metal underground, this sole LP by “the first African American metal band” was unleashed in 1984 and, ridiculously, never officially reissued until now. An invigorating keg-party classic from the golden age of leather, spandex and brimstone-snorting conviction, Black Death (from Cleveland, Ohio, of all places) formed as early as 1977, so their bloodthirsty rampage is bolstered with cosmic stoner grooves, frantic punk energy and a faint residue of hard funk, assisting Siki Spacek’s wild-and-crazy vocal attack in lending an air of eccentric derangement to ripping rivethead anthems like Night Of The Living Death, Streetwalker and the legendary Scream Of The Iron Messiah. Shame there are no bonus contemporary demo or compilation tracks, but this powerful remaster by Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind stands proud as the definitive rendering of a criminally undervalued rough diamond.

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.