As a relatively active member of the Chicago metal scene, I mentally maintain a list of local bands that I need to see live — because no matter how many shows you go to here, there's still going to be some frustrating gaps. After I became aware of Black Sites with their excellent 2019 album Exile, they rocketed to the top of the list, but certain factors have unfortunately conspired to prevent any more shows in the meantime. For now, their spot on the list remains intact and the injustice of it all has only continued to fester, but a new album from the group is a welcome consolation prize in the meantime. On their upcoming album Untrue, Black Sites forges a progressive assault that strikes deep with clever riffs and soaring melodies, continuing their singularly elevated brand of heavy metal that goes beyond retro worship. While it retains the classical appeal of catchy twin-guitar metal, Untrue captures not only the heart but the imagination as it explores the incredibly lucrative potential of enriching the tried-and-true with heavy instrumental prowess and an ear for tasty hooks. Check out a sample with the new single "Sword of Orion," premiering below:

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To quickly summarize: it's a ripper. "Sword of Orion" takes its opening slot on the album seriously, kicking off with rumbling guitars and a reverberating tom drum rhythm and in short order launching into a beefy hook with pounding double-bass underneath it. Guitarist/vocalist Mark Sugar then introduces his gritty-but-mysterious voice as well, adding another layer of harmony to the dual guitar attack. It's the type of energizing heavy metal that makes you want to go out and get a battle jacket, or, if you've already got one, actually get around to re-doing all the patches on it.

At the same time, Black Sites doesn't sound exactly like the heavy metal of the past, incorporating progressive song structures and decidedly non-traditional segments. Mixed by the revered Sanford Parker, Untrue is up-close-and-personal metal, imbued with the might of decades of amplifier and sound production evolution. The guitars are pincer-sharp but can crush when needed, and each snare drum is a beefy smack, situating the listener right in the middle of the fray. Above it all, intricate vocal and guitar harmonies swell, driving the song's emotional thrust and reinforcing the conviction that Untrue is something special: modern metal that carries the spirit of traditional metal forward to new heights.

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Untrue releases October 8th independently through the band's Bandcamp page.