In 2015, revered metal guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Mark Sugar had a creative breakthrough that led him to leave behind a modern metal legacy to bravely forge a new one. Now, one of underground metal's most uncompromising visionaries returns with a new band and an invigorating heavy-with-melody aesthetic.
"I wanted to challenge myself with clean singing and by writing well-crafted songs," reveals the Chicago-based artist. "I went back to my influences, old school metal, prog rock, and hard rock—music built on classic songwriting."
Black Sites conjures burly proto metal riffs and vibey grooves, whiplash thrash, moody ambience, and the stately expanse of modern and classic prog. The Chicago-based hard rock quartet's debut, In Monochrome (Mascot Records), thrills with unexpected twists and turns, and tuneful songcraft that never sacrifices heft for hooks.
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 Mark Sugar on vocals/guitar, ex-Trials bandmate Ryan Bruchert on guitar, John Picillo on bass, from Without Waves and Immortal Bird, and Chris Avgerin on drums, from Nequient and Autonomy. The four-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.
As anticipation builds for the band, and Black Sites releases its debut long player and plays its first shows ever, Sugar is reflective. After all, in the span of a year he's gone from no band to a new band with an irresistible old school aesthetic. "I remember driving in my car listening to the final album and just feeling so relieved and excited to hear these songs come to life," he says. "I learned a lot during this time. I learned how to keep an open mind and stay focused. I feel like this is the best thing I've ever done."