It’s all too easy to assume, based on their Black Flag-referencing name, that St. Louis foursome Everything Went Black prefers their brand of hardcore as old school as possible. And there’s a little truth to that, for certain. When the band launches head-first into a four-on-the-floor stomper, there’s nothing to get in the way of their menacing power chord assault. But that just barely scratches the surface of Cycles of Light, the band’s debut album for Prosthetic Records. The “black” in their name also refers to the influence of black metal, which lends a darkly melodic quality to Everything Went Black’s furious anthems. And like any great, crusty hardcore band worth its salt in 2012, the band knows its way around some dense, Entombed-style death metal riffs. It’s a combination that not only seems foolproof in terms of actually delivering a meaty, bone-slamming mixture of heavy flavors, it provides more surprises than something so deceptively simple might suggest.
Everything Went Black give their listeners a two minute window of preparation with the ominous intro track, “XI.” Yet once that two minutes is up, the snarling onslaught of unrelenting power comes crashing through the gates on “Gods of Atlantis,” which gives way to a surprisingly melodic, mid-tempo highlight on “Halo of Vultures.” At less than two minutes long, “Lifeless” initially seems like the kind of track that gets in, bruises the listener and gets out before there’s time to call the police, but it turns out the band dropped a haunting, atmospheric bridge right in the middle, further proving their black metal bona fides, even if they mostly stay in the group’s back pocket. But the strongest moment on the album is centerpiece “Parades,” a five-minute epic of textured riffs, minor key gloom and sludgy progression that reveals even more depth in what already amounted to a pretty complex and highly enjoyable chunk of metal.
There’s a lot of different sounds and stylistic variations on Cycles of Light, all within its blackened, crusty exterior, but when all is said and done, the band still exits the stage after a brief 27 minutes. Like any good hardcore act, Everything Went Black know better than to overstay their welcome, but that’s actually the curious irony about it all. With an album of metallic hardcore this diverse and progressive in its approach, another 27 minutes of this would be more than welcome.