Pinkish Black lean distinctly toward the darker colors of the spectrum on Concept Unification. Oh, the Texas duo have never shied away from doom or despair, but their fourth full-length finds them in gloriously gloomy form.
The clouds roll in from the very beginning. The title track swells from a low drone to a chilling, looping buzz, incorporating digital chants, distorted vocals, and slow, pounding percussion along the way. It’s like a killer sci-fi soundtrack gone fantastically awry, and it’s impossible to ignore.
Now, the pace won’t work for some people. We usually expect creeping, crawling electric doom in the dead of winter instead of on the eve of summer—but for others, this will be an album of the year candidate before the opening song is done. And once Pinkish Black have you, they don’t let go.
“Until” combines dark ambience with persistent industrial energy, “Petit Mal” opens with surprisingly upbeat synths but soon distorts into something that wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack to the original Blade Runner or a latter-day Mogwai album, and the 12-minute “Next Solution” is a swirling, stop-you-in-your-tracks epic.
Keyboardist Daron Beck’s vocals are buried in the mix throughout Concept Unification, his voice another instrument, a hypnotic ghost in the machine, but when they do rise to the fore on the latter track, his vampiric croon is a striking secret weapon.
It’s not just impressive that two people, armed only with a drum kit, an array of synthesizers, and that voice, are responsible for all this noise, but that every ominous note feels like it’s in its right place. Thrumming, whirring versions of riffs surprise and satisfy in equal measure; percussion sits right in the pocket, and there’s an abundance of addictive ear candy. Even two digital-exclusive tracks that might threaten to feel tacked on are well-constructed and worthy.
As Concept Unification spins to a stop, it doesn’t only earn an immediate replay; it takes the title as the best thing Pinkish Black have ever done.