Black Dresses are back, baby!
Black Dresses are a Canadian duo, consisting of Devi McCallion and Ada Rook. In just two years, between 2018 and 2020, they released four albums before disbanding due to harassment. The final of this set of 4 albums, Peaceful As Hell, was my favorite album of last year, and so, when they announced they had a “small gift” for fans on Valentine’s, my interest was naturally piqued. I spent a lot of time wondering what it would be, but my hype rose to absolutely inhuman levels when Black Dresses announced their fifth LP, Forever In Your Heart, to be released in just an hour from the announcement.
This project is far different than their previous effort- while Peaceful As Hell was ridiculously abrasive, it was simultaneously hopeful, hook-centric, and melodic. Forever In Your Heart has more of a metal-tinged, guitar-centric sound, and it’s much darker, less catchy, less structured, and even more abrasive and harsh. Although its inferior melodies make this project worse than Peaceful As Hell, in my opinion, this album is still absolutely exceptional, and is bound to be one of the greatest releases of 2021.
The track “PEACESIGN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” opens up this project, kicking the album off with abrasive, heavy guitars and electronic beeping, before Rook and Devi’s vocals come in, their singing, screaming, and moaning mixed low with heavy, distorted electronics, guitars, punchy drums, and grainy synths. Immediately, I found this track to be far more blown-out and abrasive than Peaceful as Hell, and this theme stays consistent throughout this album’s nearly 50-minute runtime. However, this project, while being loud and insane, still is able to balance dynamics well, interpolating loud, almost dizzying sections with synth-laden, pleasant, even sweet ones, like on the track “Heaven”, which kicks off with rapid hi-hats, abrasive, coarse glitches, and guitar riffs before the track gives way to a much more Peaceful As Hell-esque segment with Rook harmonizing over sweet-sounding synthesizers and drums. Another example of this phenomenon is one of my favorite cuts off of this LP, “Gone In An Instant”, which opens quietly, the song almost sounding like an early-stage-EATEOT version of itself, before the track explodes into an aggressive, in-your-face, harsh yet pleasant verse. The song bounces between quiet, soft passages and aggressive, screamed verses that somehow carry the same energy. Some tracks even stay somewhat muted the entire time, like the track “Bulldozer”, featuring soft refrains from Devi and Rook paired with an instrumental that sounds like a stripped-back, warbly version of the rest of the album. This album also has a heavy lo-fi, imperfect, even amateurish aspect to it, best highlighted by tracks like “Tiny Ball” and “Waiting42moro”, with recordings that sound like they were made with a laptop microphone or even over a glitching Discord call at points. Cuts like “Ragequitted”, which ends with Devi monologuing about how her vocal performance was a “bit busted”, before realizing it was still recording and abruptly cutting it off, also carry the same vibe. The duo also has a ton of chemistry which is highlighted extremely well on this project, like on “Silver Bell”, which features sweet synths, punchy synthesized drums, and insane, layered vocals, with some conversational segments between the two, who sing a majority of the verses together behind staticky synthesizers and occasional Auto-Tune abuse. The project also has a decently strong last leg- some of my favorite tracks from the last third of the project are “Understanding”, which has medieval-sounding, huge drums, granular synths, and ringing, synthesized bells, the track later cutting out some of its instrumentation in favor of glitching, loud, linear synths, or “Zero Ultra”, which has a crazy groove with a sweet guitar, an eccentric, irregular drum beat, processed, glitchy vocals, and echoing synths. Unfortunately, one of my least favorite tracks also shows up- “Mistake”, which has great writing but an annoying instrumental that never evolves in the track’s 2-minute runtime, but, thankfully, the closer, “(Can’t) Keep It Together”, is great, featuring another repeating, spaced-out synth line, guitar riffs, monotonous, quiet layered synths, and somewhat understated vocals.
Black Dresses’ Forever In Your Heart is an insane and amazing LP, and I simply cannot get enough of it. Despite it not being as good as their previous project, FIYH is great, and I cannot recommend it enough for fans of BD’s previous work or for fans of industrial music of all stripes. A truly great LP.