There's a sharp distinction between concepts like "new" and "novel," and it's important to be mindful of that gap when talking about an EP like Black Table's Sentinel. You likely won't find much that's new on Sentinel. Instead, what you'll hear is a novel interpretation of several recognizable sounds, ranging from Americanized melodic black metal to spacious post-metal. Rather than moving forward in any recognizable way, Black Table takes styles already existing in the broad musical consciousness and pulls them inward to interpret them as something not necessarily new, but certainly distinctive.
Opening track "Heist" utilizes a formula of thematic introduction, repetition and modulation that fans of Wolves in Throne Room or Woe should find familiar. The three-note measure that commences "Heist" is echoed throughout the song in several slightly different iterations. Where Black Table finds distinction is in the flights of improvisation that depart from the from the song's central theme. Of note is the performance of bass player Matt Mellon, who for most intents and purposes, assumes the responsibility of the lead guitarist throughout Sentinel. Across most of the EP's 25 minutes, Black Table leaves ample space for core melodic themes to resonate and be adorned by Mellon's wandering bass vamps.
I don't think Sentinel is a particularly great EP, but it does something pretty important by reminding the listener that any given style can remain relevant if it's interpreted by players with some quirk and style. In Black Table's case, that distinction is found in the band's ability to embellish constantly evolving melodic figures with lead guitar and bass performances that flourish but don't overpower. While not a new approach, it's a refreshingly novel one from a band talented enough to be defining their own voice so early in their career.
1st Press (12.08.2013)