Darkwater - Human

(CD 2019, 76:08, Ulterium Records ULTCD042)

The tracks:
  1- A New Beginning(6:20)
  2- In Front Of You(7:28)
  3- Alive (Part I)(1:26)
  4- Alive (Part II)(7:22)
  5- Reflection Of A Mind(11:32)
  6- Insomnia(6:46)
  7- The Journey(8:04)
  8- Burdens(8:15)
  9- Turning Pages(9:47)
10- Light Of Dawn(9:09)

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Although Darkwater was formed in 2003, their latest, Human is only the third release of this interesting Swedish progressive metal outfit. With their 2007 debut; Calling The Earth To Witness and successor; Where Stories End in 2010 Darkwater gathered a strong and solid following, but never got the worldwide recognition they deserved. Listening to Human, things are about to change, I reckon. Since the second album, Darkwater have retained its dedicated line-up with vocalist and guitar player Henrik Båth, lead guitarist Markus Sigfridsson, keyboard player Magnus Holmberg, bass player Simon Andersson and drummer Tobias Enbert. For the record; bass player Simon Andersson is a former bass player for Pain Of Salvation and has his own impressive project; Audioplastik together with Threshold's Richard West and vocalist Dec Burke.

With the release of their previous albums, Darkwater were one of those bands that released great albums, but remained fairly unknown. As I wrote above; things are about to change with their third album Human. Musically Darkwater is an exponent from the typical Scandinavian progressive metal scene and can easily be compared to bands like; Circus Maximus, Withem or Seventh Wonder. Listen to the album's opener; A New Beginning, In Front Of You, or the mighty epic Reflection Of A Mind and you know what I mean. Great melodies, lush keyboard parts, a little dash of symphonic, dramatic bombast, topped off with catchy vocals and orchestrated choirs. All ten, or basically nine compositions; Alive can be seen as one track, are reasonable long compositions, from close to six and a half minutes up to eleven and a half for the aforementioned epic. Although the songs are pretty stretched, Darkwater easily keeps the attention of the listener with their strong melodies and sometimes-furious guitar and keyboard solo's. When I compare the band with the ones mentioned I think the element of guitar is a bit more dominant in Darkwater's music than it is in the others mentioned. Check out Burdens, where the emotional intro turns into a true powerhouse, or the semi ballad Turning Pages, which combines amazing guitar parts with softer elements into on perfect composition.

In the end, I think Darkwater has released an album that is at least as good, it might be even a little better, than their fellow landsmen Seventh Wonder's latest release Tiara (2018, see review). An album I highly regard and graded with four and a half stars. It must be due to the long interesting compositions, great vocals and the dominance of the guitar that makes me choose this one over Tiara. Human is an album with no weak moments and keeps being interesting until the very last second.

***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Dave Smith)

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