When it was first announced that Dredg’s Mark Engles, Far’s Chris Robyn and The Trophy Fire’s Ben Flanagan had gotten together to play music, the hairs on my arms stood up (all in a good way). The three formed the band Black Map, a melodic hard rock band that shows the harder side of what they all have to offer. In a live setting they are undeniably awesome. Their live show is intense as it is raw and powerful. Chris plays with the same intensity that he’s played with since back in the FAR days, only this time he has added more groove to his playing. Mark has a very unique tone with Dredg and parts of that carry over but in this band you can tell his love for the heavier side of things, especially with the riffs he plays. Ben has a great sense of melody with his voice and his bass tone is thick and driving. All three of these guys make what a power trio should be. Their set at the Viper Room on Saturday night was inspiring. Despite a few technical issues, they were on fire. Playing the four songs from their EP and others yet to be released, everyone in the audience was really into it. The unreleased songs has a great balance of melody and heaviness. Even their banter in between songs provided a few chuckles while at the same time engaging to everyone. I can’t wait to see them again.
Their debut EP DRIVER is 4 songs of nothing but fantastic. Kicking off the E.P. is “I’m Just The Driver.” This song is what a lead of track should be as well as a great introduction to what the sound of the band is. The next track “Gold” has a melodic edge to it all the while rhythmically driving. “Head For The Hills” showcases Ben’s vocal ability as powerful rock singer. The music that accompanies the song is melodic in nature and shows off more of what Mark can do on his guitar. The closing track “Ropes” is a great song that features a rocking sing along (which has been missing from rock music in general). Musically this song has a nasty vibe to it with it’s dirty bass and pounding drums, but also has a sheen to it with the guitars bouncing back and forth between clean and distorted.
Black Map has recently stated that they have enough songs for a full length which they hope to have out later this year as well as lots more shows to come. These guys are the real deal, they know how to write great songs and bring back hard rock with melody!
By: Brian Lacy