In the tradition of great supergroup side projects like Team Sleep/Crosses, How to Destroy Angels, and Puscifer, the Black Queen craft an intoxicating sound that combines the best of each member's day job into a new sonic creature worthy of its own existence. Together with producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (M83, Nine Inch Nails, Beck), vocalist Greg Puciato (the Dillinger Escape Plan), Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv, NIN, Puscifer), and Steven Alexander (Dillinger, NIN) have spawned a lush electronic ode to both the nostalgic '80s past and the sci-fi future on debut LP Fever Daydream. Looking at their combined résumés, it's not a surprising amalgamation. Taking the digital sheen from Telefon Tel Aviv, the hard-edged industrial beats from NIN, and the futuristic-throwback soundscapes of M83, the Black Queen sound like Depeche Mode spinning Pretty Hate Machine from the seediest back alley of the Blade Runner universe, like on standout jam "Secret Scream," which throbs with a carnal, digital hip-hop beat. Puciato's vocals shine, hitting sensual falsetto highs when he's not sounding like a younger Mike Patton (fans accustomed to hearing him scream on Dillinger cuts need look no further than the title track of their 2013 release, One of Us Is the Killer, for an idea of where his vocals are headed on this project). Album highlight and single "The End Where We Start" is a fine example of how their powers combine, as Puciato's voice peaks and dips and the guitars float through the warm haze of synths that sound like a life-support machine. The group's shared love of '80s new wave by the Cure and Depeche Mode as well as R&B groups New Edition and Jodeci informs much of the vibe, as the beats pulse and pop, like on "Ice to Never" and "That Death Cannot Touch." The slower moments sweep up the listener in delicate dreamlike states ("Maybe We Should"), nocturnal atmospheric buildups ("Taman Shud"), and even pretty moments of piano and stuttered breakbeats lost in the ether ("Apocalypse Morning"). Fans of NIN and Telefon Tel Aviv have had tastes of this beauty hidden in the darkness, but Dillinger fans might need to take a moment. What the trio has crafted here is a soundtrack to comforting solace and the deeper emotions that cannot be remedied by simple outbursts of rage. And much like Deftones, NIN, and Tool successfully coexist alongside their respective sibling projects, Puciato, Eustis, and Alexander have created a refreshing entity to foster an alternative outlet for their emotions and creativity with satisfying results.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung