Blackhaine – Armour EP

Words by Daniel Farrell

Blackhaine’s latest offering, which will be available from 27th November, a five track EP titled ‘Armour’. Produced entirely by fellow Lancastrian Rainy Miller, it gives us insight to the inner workings of the Chorley born, Chorley proud artist. Many will associate the name with performance art, and few might be aware of, and appreciative of, the skill and uniqueness he possesses when it comes to his musical ventures. Blackhaine’s been on our radar from early 2015, when he released a series of short EP’s, most notably ‘Dogma’. These early workings presented a softer, more digestible essence, with a more conventional approach in terms of marrying bars to beats. In the half decade since, Blackhaine has challenged this convention, throwing out the manual and carving a clear path. His ability to marry emotive movement with emotive sound is engaging, raw and focussed. This multifaceted approach to art allows him to transcend multiple mediums, which makes for a fucking good viewing. Anyway, sod all this prancy bollocks, let’s get the scalpel out and bleed this EP dry, it’s what Blackhaine would want; Here is our take on ‘Armour’. 

As mentioned prior, Blackhaine is a proud northerner, but more specifically he’s a proud Lancastrian. Homage is paid right from the off, with the opening track, ‘Blackpool’. For those who aren’t well-versed in the north-western coast of England, Blackpool’s a seaside resort made famous in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, after the local industrialised areas were connected by railway. It was once the UK’s most desired holidaying resort, however, it’s slow decline since the 60’s has made it a grey, cheerless and stony part of the world. 

“Rigor mortis in my cradle while you’re rocking me to sleep”

Rainy Miller’s production throughout the EP is near faultless; Specifically however, with ‘Blackpool’, the subtle, inflective bass is akin to the gritty notion of Blackpool as a place, or more so as a graveyard of yesterday’s memories. Blackhaine paints a sordid photo of the north, using a number of differing paces and schemes. It sets the tone for the remaining  four components of the EP; The abattoir’s favourite son’s homecoming has begun. 



The only feature on the EP is that of Iceboy Violet, whose Manc/West Yorks oration on the second track, ‘The Fall’, adds an element of franticity, which is much needed. 

“The flat’s so high cast shadow on the roadside, manifested in cease and desist, breathe deep through the teeth in the clip, trees leak out the wreath in my lip”.

In contrast to the EP’s opener, ‘The Fall’ takes a much slower approach, with Rainy Miller’s production favouring a string dominant intro with gradually layered bass; This understated and frankly selfless sound, ensures the listener’s full attention is focused on the lyricism of both artists. Blackhaine slowly grows into the song, with a gradual upturn of pace. Nothing seems forced or rushed, it’s all deliberate and evidences the careful detail of thought that’s gone into this song.

Iceboy’s agitated and wavered flow extends from bar to bar, with little pause for digestion. They’re able to deliver what we’ve come to expect from them, an effortless foray of inflection and pitch, whilst sticking to the narrative of ‘falling’. It’s the right feature for the right track, and again shows that northern unity, a theme strong throughout.

Chorley is a town held hostage by two seemingly endless stretches of grey motorway, the M6 and M61. These concrete conveyor belts bring life to the region, and in Blackhaine’s summertime reading; Transmission 004 – ‘nothing urgent, surreal or of meaning’, we explore this notion of life as it creeps in the background at the start of the video. The EP’s third installation, ‘Black Lights on the M6’, coincidentally takes us in another direction completely. Rainy Miller opts for a bold, industrial palette from which he paints a grainy backdrop. The pulsating bass combines with an abrasive, grinding overlay and sonar-type pings, creating a dissonant reality for Blackhaine to fill. He’s filling this void with his mantra, by way of repetition. 

“Black Lights on the M6, all this pain I can’t sense it, on the road black lights on the exit”

The production moves towards its apex in a determined fashion, as though we’re witnessing a car crash of noise and lyric. It feels like Rainy Miller and Blackhaine are fighting for dominance. The post-mortem would reveal that neither were intoxicated, but that in fact, the black lights on the M6 made it harder to see one another.

If you’re familiar with any of Blackhaine’s previous work, you may have heard the conception of ‘Death In June’ before. Track four, which bears this name, is a reimagining of a previous work of the same title. Again, with a change of pace, the production is almost melodic, with no outright dominating sound. It doesn’t run in accordance with the EP’s theme, with saxophones swirling and futuristic twangs bleeping, but it works. 

“I been broken I been breaking to the county line, I put acid on my tongue it tastes like alkaline, ‘nother shot into the gully like I’m alkaline, broken pieces failing mortgage under hammer time, conversations with my mother never had the time”

‘Death In June’ evokes feelings of separation and distancing from life and ultimately from love, as though Blackhaine’s being sucked into a darker space. He still has full control. There’s no rush to say what needs saying, it’s carefully and accurately paced, and begins the process of rebirth. 

With reference to rebirth, the EP closes beautifully with ‘Womb’, which is spliced neatly with ‘Death In June’. The miracle of birth is such, because we’re not meant to be here. Not Rainy Miller, not Blackhaine or Iceboy Violet. Not you, or me, or anyone. ‘Womb’ is a humble reminder of this. Rainy Miller’s final offering sets out a morbidly poetic, delicate and surreal combination of slow keys, chirping birds and measured, drawn out strings. This style is married deftly with soothing words; There’s life to be enjoyed here, in spite of the sterile and colourless approach Blackhaine and company have taken. 

Steel town smoke

As we ran up the hill

And the womb carved out to the edge of the fields

I can’t fall yet wanna know how it feels  

And you wake up my back with the edge of the steel

Want to know how it feels

Want to know how it feels