An aura of mystique surrounds Black Sites. The band is a super group of sorts, featuring some of Chicago's finest players from the underground metal scene. The band features former Trials-members Mark Sugar (vocals/guitar) and Ryan Bruchert (guitar), plus John Picillo from Without Waves and Immortal Birds on bass, and Chris Avgerin, formerly of Autonomy and Lost Dog, on drums. The 4-piece band draws inspiration from a panoramic pedigree of classic and modern metal and hard rock influences including Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, 1970s Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Fates Warning, Motörhead, Queensrÿche, Voivod, Hammers Of Misfortune, and Dawnbringer.
Their 9-track debut, In Monochrome, opens with the elegantly elegiac piano interlude "M Fisto Waltz," which eventually lunges for the jugular with lacerating guitars. In Monochrome's first official track, "Dead Languages," unfurls the album's manifesto of musical intent. Packed within its 5:23 minutes the band traverse Sabbath-y grooves, agile progressive rock drums, Thin Lizzy-esque guitar harmonies, sinister guttural vocals, and soaring melodic vocals. Other album standouts include "Hunter/Gatherer," "Burning Away The Day," and "Locked Out – Shut Down."
"Hunter/Gatherer" opens with a darkly classical acoustic guitar figure and plaintive, clean vocals. It's a storyteller song that uses dramatic dynamics to convey the narrative. Within the epic are slight nods to vintage Mercyful Fate, Trouble and Queensrÿche. "Burning Away The Day" is an instrumental tour de force with savage '70s hard rock drums and fleet-fingered guitar solo playing that explodes with classical melodicism and proto-shred flash. The relentless pummel of "Locked Out – Shut Down" evinces Sugar's thrash roots.