Pinkish Black are a band that rose out of the ashes of another band, The Great Tyrant. Daron Beck(Keyboards, Synthesizers, Voice), Jon Teague(Drums), and Tommy Atkins(Bass) were a three piece out of Denton, TX that made music which could be called experimental. I’d call it a nightmare creation that sounded like a late-60s psych band being swallowed by the earth. A mixture of keys, bass, and drums calling out in pain and anguish. Sort of like if The Doors were dissected live on stage with Scott Walker singing the obituaries page from a Denton newspaper. Just listen to the opening track “Closing In” off their debut album for proof of their power.
In-between exorcisms and bludgeoning explosions of noise, they made eerie and Gothic synth/drum-heavy songs. This is where Pinkish Black was born from. After bass player Tommy Atkins passed away suddenly the three-piece turned into a duo and changed their name. The band released Razed To The Ground(2013) and Bottom of the Morning(2015), with each album honing in on the power of their drum/synth structure and Daron Beck’s Gothic vocal delivery. Beck’s vocals are a mixture of Ian Curtis and Scott Walker, with a dark lord croon. Pinkish Black are a heady mix of dark wave, post-punk, heavy synth, and prog rock.
All of Pinkish Black’s musical powers were formed nearly fully on Bottom of the Morning. And now, with their newest Relapse Records release Concept Unification, it all comes to a beautifully envisioned head. This is their best album yet, and possibly one of the best experimental metal albums of the year.
When I hear Pinkish Black, I can’t help but think of Philadelphia’s power duo Zombi. Both are duos that center around synths and drums. Both take inspiration from the world of horror and sci-fi, and both somewhat dabble in prog rock territory. But where Zombi have taken their sound into more cosmic vibes, Pinkish Black are firmly planted in darker corners and retain a more earth-bound sound.
Album opener “Concept Unification” opens in a swirl of electronic noise. The mixture of acoustic drums and synthesizer colors is a powerful thing, and this track is an amazing way to open a record. Beck’s vocals emanate from a cavernous cloud of reverberation and delay, sounding as if the earth itself is belching a warning from depths of terra firma. “Until” veers almost into doom metal territory, synths taking the place of metal riffage. Beck almost has a Layne Staley vibe in his great vocal delivery. This is an absolute monster of a track.
Elsewhere, “Petit Mal” gets a little Komische vibe going on. Fluttering synth notes open the song which give way to a powerfully sultry groove thanks to Jon Teague’s drums. There’s a truly hypnotic vibe to this song. “Inanimatronic” wheezes with post-apocalyptic glee, like some neo-futuristic soundtrack to a radiation-burnt western. Beck peppers the track with acoustic piano which adds some dramatic heft. Album closer “Next Solution” is nearly twelve minutes. It opens with beautifully melancholy piano. It quickly builds into a cataclysmic storm of distortion and drama. It’s an absolutely devastating end to a heavy and heady album.
Concept Unification is Pinkish Black’s finest moment up to this point. Where they go from here? I don’t know. But I cannot wait to see. This is a crushing and beautiful musical statement.
9 out of 10