Written by: EW on 27/04/2014 12:33:03

The résumé of Illinois natives Blackwater marks clear a band at the very beginning of their intended ascent through the doom metal ranks making their charge with a very 90s sound redolent of their main influence Trouble as well as the notable Kyuss. Their s/t debut LP is produced by Trouble's Eric Wagner so it should come as no surprise that the band harness a sound not at all unlike their own s/t album from 1990 (although that was their fourth album at the time): thick groovy riffs in short snappy songs melded into the kind of swampy, turgid production that recalls days gone by in my mind. It has to be said that any band who ignore the prevailing the trends of the day can go one of two ways: forge their own successful path in spite of fan (and label) demands, or seem out of date and languishing in a bygone era. Unfortunately Blackwater fall the wrong side of this fence.

What is heard throughout their short 30 minutes of original material here is not far removed from the likes of Orchid, a band who worship the psychedelic sound of Sabbath as did Trouble in their day, but Blackwater are simply too grey and devoid of inspiration to trouble the top scores when numerous other great doom acts abound. Thankfully the album is brief as by the mid-stages of each listen I've given it the lack of variance begins to grate: individually "Opposite Sides of Glass", "Revenant" and "Cruxification" are all pretty decent but this is definitely not a case of the sum of the whole being greater than its parts. Vocalist Mitchell Barnes is the most notable member as he possesses a very Wagner-esque set of pipes with a hint of John Garcia twang, as he shows an ability to hold onto a note with satisfactory pizzazz but even he can't help with some of the staid rhythmic pauses heard in "Bone Crusher" and "Killing Fields" nor the musically-tired cover of Judas Priest's "Deceiver" tacked onto the end. Occasional solos from Todd Phoenix/Shayson V. Clay beside there is very little I can say about the instrumentation as it is simply just there, not really making a great desire for my attention or wordsmith in this review.

Had the idea been floated past me before taking in "Blackwater" I would have been rather excited about the thought of an American doom band harking back to an era rarely referenced, but a comparison of the musical abilities between the master and the apprentice confirms Blackwater have some way to go still. At the End of my Daze the cleanliness, sharpness and tonality of the riffing just ain't there yet but with some building blocks already being in place don't rule them out in the future.

Download: Opposite Sides of Glass, Revenant
For The Fans Of: Trouble, Pentagram
Listen: Facebook

Release date 15.04.2014
The Path less Traveled Records

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