Stereoviolet are powered by the commanding yet melodic vocals of frontwoman Bianca B. Black. THE RISE AND FALL OF O’REN BLACK, the debut album from the Chicago-based indie-rock band, is an unapologetic admission of life and the forces that drive us. It’s not a collection of love songs. They’re songs of lust and life, and they tell the uncompromised story of the human journey. This is an interesting band with a fine product that grabs you by the ear and really doesn’t let go at any point. It’s vibrant and captivating with excellent vocals and a sonic like no other, by combining many styles. The album kicks off with a killer opener in “Verse For Verse” (which also can be seen in a promo video), and there’s a lot to be described about it. To begin with, Pink Floyd come straight to mind, and that is a good thing. But not only that, it sits somewhere between them, U2 and Kate Bush if you spot it. They magnificently weave it altogether with pure ease and perfection. This is a world class tune, there is no denying that much. You get the picture right away that this is a great band, and that’s how any album should open.


The next track, “The Reckoner” follows in a similar fashion but has a more industrial feel, with a vocal effect that sounds separated as if in a big theater. The echo gives it an industrial ambience that gives it a pass in any dance club, even though make no mistake this is hard rock music as well. Nothing much else to be said but it’s almost as good as the first track. And I hear a little Adele influence in her voice thrown in there too. This is a vocalist with massive chops herself. That must be duly- noted above all. And after the first two songs it’s pretty much over with as an album. The impact is that high. With that much going for it already it’s a breath of fresh air to hear “Shotgun” with its completely different arrangement which has inflections of The Cure and others. It might just be me, but it tells you where a band’s head it at when the nod to others this way and comes out completely original at the same time. The only negative thing is that it takes a while to pick up, but when it does it makes the song. “Alone” the following track is an epic, mesmerizing ballad with some blisteringly incendiary guitar work. This is one of the most magnificent moments for sure, with all of them turning in a jubilant studio performance.

Skipping ahead to “Before You Go” it gets most lyrically nostalgic for yet another interesting track to say the least, with haunting guitars and crashing cymbals. The percussive values alone are brilliant on this one too. The melancholy vocals are a highlight on this great track as well. But if you don’t appreciate what they’re doing you won’t get it. I say get it, and get it today or you’ll never really know in the first place. “Broken Leverage” is also percussively smashing, and the album closes with the searing “Whisper” to top it off in style and leave you doing nothing but wanting more. This release comes highly recommended.

Larry Toering