You've got to love and give tremendous credit to those hard working DIY bands, like Southern California's Black Brew, especially in this unpredictable musical climate. From presence to production to Photoshopped album art, Black Brew is doing things their way and not looking back. Their sound is strongly heavy rock in a modern motif that is certainly post-grunge. Actually, listening to some tunes here, with a single step, Black Brew could fall into the thickness of sludge rock or metal.
Generally well-crafted, this debut will take some time and patience for the listener to reap its inner jewels. Some of this is do simply to the thickness of many songs which only seem to bloom when you get deeper into them. This is certainly the case with Conflict Within and Society's Whore. Again, this is a heavy album, and the weight may sometimes be too much for its own good.
Also, the production seems to sway between crisp and grotesque. By example, Black and White is marvelous while Last Chapter sounds like it was recorded in the boy's shower of the local high school. Fortunately, the latter is exception and not the rule. Additionally, the vocals are troubling. Most times I couldn't determine how Kurt Loun wanted to sing (maybe he doesn't know either). Would he be growling or gruff, clean or smooth? Inconsistency seems to be his range. However, and I'd never thought I'd say this of a vocalist, this guy sounds better when he sticks to raspier gruff angle. Vocalist Joanne Allen shines throughout, and appears as the perfect foil to Loun's snarling sound. Her work on Black and White is outstanding.
Ultimately, when listening with a discerning ear, you will find some interesting and entertaining music here. The best picks are Society's Whore, Black and White, Why Me, and the Conflict Within. However, what distinguishes Black Brew above anything else is the steady rhythm section of Mike Ihona and John Guy, and the supreme fret work of Jimmy Ash. Actually, these guys make the album, and with each song I kept wondering what to expect from Ash. I was never disappointed.
Despite my reservations, Black Brew distinguishes themselves as a fine, and promising, modern heavy rock band. With continued work and development their future is quite bright.