ELIAS BLACK's Sophomore, full-length record. Recorded by Steve Albini @ Electrical Audio in Chicago, IL.
"Alt-rocker Elias Black’s darkly cathartic album, Reclamation, is a f#@$ you to loss, and professional and personal upheaval. It’s a vulnerable and vicious masterwork made in the face of great adversity. Welcome to a black celebration.
“The title is about taking your life back from all the toxicity that manages to creep in. More so, it’s about ‘reclaiming’ my love and passion for the process of actually making a record,” says the Phoenix, Arizona-based artist.
Elias Black brings to the live band medium the ominous emotionality, twisted textures, and dissonance of industrial music. His songwriting is characterized by barbed hooks and organic musical interplay. The Elias Black aesthetic is steeped in 1980s dark wave, punk rock, and alternative rock.
Previously, Elias issued one full-length and one EP, Elias Black (2015) and Cold (2017), respectively. On these releases, Elias wrote, recorded, performed, and mixed all the tracks, the exception being his second EP which featured a few auxiliary efforts from the first version of his live band - now defunct. It also featured some prominent guitar work from Ryan Chamberlain, singer/songwriter of the Austin, Texas bands Lions of Tsavo and Arrowounds. Elias Black’s first record charted at a few college radio stations and earned some CMJ adds along the way.
Elias came up a skate rat with fringe tastes, and soon graduated from Black Flag and the Misfits to the sleek aggression of Ministry and Skinny Puppy. He came to performing and creating music as a drummer. Forever a techy, Elias enjoyed boundless creativity with the onslaught of recording software in the 1990s. The sonic possibilities at his fingertips became a satisfying and solitary way to create the music he loved. During this time, in various contexts and under various identities, Elias issued albums in the industrial and dark electronic world.
A few years ago, Elias found himself craving the primal pleasures of playing in a rock band. Burnt out from sitting behind a computer, he picked up a guitar as a way to expand his artistic horizons. Reclamation is a high watermark in this journey.
“To be frank, I called myself a musician for so long, but I felt like I couldn’t just go into a studio and cut tracks live. I was afraid of it. I sort of hid behind electronics and my perfectionistic nature,” Elias reveals. “I needed to see if I could do it.”
Reclamation is messy, imperfect, and real. It was captured live to tape with a minimally rehearsed band of ace musicians on point and in the moment. Iconic recording engineer Steve Albini (PJ Harvey, Jesus Lizard, Nirvana, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page) documented Reclamation with audio vérité ferociousness at his venerated Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago.
Featured on the Reclamation sessions is guitarist Ryan Chamberlain, a high school buddy of Elias who has become a key Elias Black creative ally and co-writer; bassist Mike Richards, another high school chum who has become a renowned drum & bass producer known as Random Movement; piano and Hammond B3 player Tash Cox from acclaimed electronic and industrial group AL1CE; and drummer Matt Moulis from haunt rock superstars Unmothered. Special guest on “Hurt Is Power” is Steven Seibold; the singer/songwriter behind the industrial heavyweight band Hate Dept, and live guitarist for the iconic band Pigface.
Reclamation packs a lacerating declaratory punch. The riffs are both sweeping and artfully atonal, the textures are filthy, and the ensemble playing is brutally elegant in its intuitiveness and high-level of musicianship.
The record opens with the sledgehammer pummel of “Fire.” The track begins with funereal ambience and explosively employs loud-soft dynamics contrasting heaving sections with chilling atonal quiet parts. The vocals reflect this, vacillating between despondency and raging anger. “I’ve been alone a lot recently, away from the people that I love for weeks on end. That song is about the effect of that, it exhausts you and tests you as an individual. It tests your relationships,” reveals Elias. “Fire” will be the album’s first single. The video, shot by Clint Carney, is an allegorical representation of the lyrics, shadowing a main character through a post-apocalyptic landscape, searching for the things he's lost in his life, and seeking to connect with his past and to create a meaningful future.
Other album highlights are “Blood” and “Leaving.” “Blood” begins hauntingly, like you’re waiting for the song to snap and lash out, and patiently builds up tension until it climaxes with satisfying vitriol. It’s almost anthemic in its emotional fortitude. “Leaving” is a chilling slow burner that builds to a stately outro.
Testing his mettle as a musician, and baring his soul so nakedly, has been profound for Elias Black. Mulling it all over he says: “I feel reinvigorated and validated by what I’ve accomplished with this record. I can hear the energy of the band and I’m just…so proud of this album.” Up next, Elias will be booking shows for the summer. "