Sunday 29 December 2013

Blackfinger - S/T (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released :  30/1/2014
Label : The Church Within Records

Blackfinger- S/T , album track listing :

1. I am Jon
2. Yellowwood
3. Why God ?
4. On Tuesday Morning
5. As long As I`m With You
6. Here Comes The Rain
7. Keep Falling Down
8. My Many Colored Days
9. For one More Day
10. All the Leaves are Brown
11. Til Death Do Us Part

Bio :

Following his departure as long-time vocalist for Chicago doom legends TROUBLE in 2008, Eric Wagner promptly removed himself from the spotlight and began intently writing new material of a more personal nature. Those writing sessions would yield the musical inspiration for BLACKFINGER. Described adamantly as a “band” and not a “project”, BLACKFINGER began to take shape as a unit in 2009, with Wagner recruiting hometown friends Rico Bianchi and Doug Hakes on guitars, Ben Smith on bass, and Larry Piatz on drums. Over the course of the next four years, the group would meticulously craft and commit eleven tracks to tape. These tracks, with their many peaks and valleys of heaviness and melancholy, along with Wagner's signature vocals, would ultimately become the self titled debut album. “Blackfinger” will mark the singer’s first recorded output since TROUBLE's 2007 release "Simple Mind Condition".

Between 2010 and 2012, BLACKFINGER would find themselves playing a handful of high profile hometown shows in the Chicago area to great acclaim, and Dark Star Records would tease the crowds further with their release of the band’s “All The Leaves Are Brown” single. Add two triumphant appearances at Milwaukee’s Days Of The Doomed Fest I & II, and interest in BLACKFINGER quickly became a major buzz in the doom metal scene and beyond.

In August of 2013, fans of Eric and BLACKFINGER were put on notice that it would not be much longer before the debut record would be unleashed. BLACKFINGER signed a worldwide deal with Germany’s prestigious The Church Within Records, home to several of the most revered bands in the genre. While Dark Star Records will continue to handle all digital versions, the full length CD and limited edition vinyl promise to be out on The Church Within Records before the end of 2013. The story of BLACKFINGER has only just begun…

The Band :

Eric Wagner | Vocals
Rico Bianchi | Guitar
Doug hakes | Guitar
Larry Piatz | Drums
Ben Smith | Bass

Review :

Well, Trouble are hugely influential- no doubt about that. One of the original doom bands, they combined a Priest-esque twin guitar attack with the mournful vocals of Eric Wagner and used slow to good effect, along with archetypal “fast bits” that had not been seen since Sabbath. Trouble may have parted company with Wagner, but Wagner here is on top form and provides an expansive vocal performance on this, Blackfinger's debut.

First track “I am Jon” sets the scene and immediately, you can surmise that this is less Psalm 9 and more perhaps more Manic Frustration. Grooves abound- not twin guitar bite. The pace is relaxed, the riffing kind of like Fu Manchu crossed with Sabbath. In short: brilliant! “Yellowgod” continues the classic rock/metal goodness as a very enjoyable album begins to take shape. Keep listening, as your attention will be richly rewarded...

“Why God” may irk some who resented Trouble's religious themes without even listening to the track, but fuck it- the title is a worthy question to ask and any sub textual debate does not bother me.
“On Tuesday Morning” is mellow stuff and delves even deeper into classic 70's sounds; loud quiet dynamics and very relaxed drumming create a superb groove over which Wagner delivers a great performance.

Piano opens “As long as I'm with you” and features somewhat morose and nostalgic lyrics. The double tracking of the vocals is an effective production trick and the song, although technically a “ballad”, never feels insincere or cheesy. Weirdly, there is a Type O Negative like quality to this; gothic, wry, uplifting and mournful all at the same time. It carries the essence of true doom without ever getting musically noisy. Stunning.

“Here comes The Rain” drops a heavy riff straight away and the lumbering groove is back. A southern touch is at work here in the riffs and even vocals (think Pepper-era COC, maybe). There is also a cowbell (at last!). A bass and drum break shifts the pace and the track takes off into unchartered (thus far on the album) jam territory.

“Keep Falling Down” is acoustic led with Wagner's measured vocal. Te track is mellow and dreamy and is again imbued with classic rock while maintaining a doomy feel. “My Many Colored Days” (American spelling used): killer riff. Heavy sounds and vibes combine well here before the band take their foot off the gas (this is a high torque engine rather than a fast one, if that makes sense!) with “For One More Day” a track filled with regret and lovely vocal melodies.

“All The Leaves Are Brown” picks up the pace and ups the heaviness. A very insistent groove takes hold and you realise that this is a very, very good band. In fact, at this point I realised that the album was nearly done and, on first listen, I really didn't want it to end. I'll be honest; I expected either a Trouble re-tread/xerox or a decent but none stand out classic doom record. My expectations have been confounded. This is really classy stuff- right up there with anything Victor Griffin or even Wino has done.

“Til Death Do Us Part” closes this excellent record with grooves and panache. I cannot recommend this highly enough. The album, as I describe it here, may sound rooted in the 70's and classic rock/proto-metal- but there is much more to it than that. There are hooks, great performances and so on, but there is also the intangible “vibe”. I can't define it, but there is something unusual at work here. Give it a go and you may well think the same. For all those who underestimated this release: You bastards are gonna pay!

Words by : Richard Maw

You can buy it here from 31/1/2014

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