Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Blackfinger - S/T
Holy hell, you hear?! Holy hell! 2013 is not over yet and here we have a contender for album of the year 2014. I am not kidding you waveriders. In reality I shouldn't be so awestruck since I have had the privilege to see Blackfinger live. But as great their self-titled debut is I was caught off-guard as the band steam rolled me and then some.
Formed and fronted by one of doom's most legendary singers, Eric Wagner, Blackfinger has taken their time to release their first album. About four years in the making, the guys knew that allowing themselves time a beast would be unleashed on an expectant audience. And what a wise decision it was not to rush things because 'Blackfinger' is as good as it gets.
Having brought in Rico Bianchi and Doug Hakes on guitars, Ben Smith on bass, and Larry Piatz on drums, Eric's desire to create new and excellent music must have been a revelation for him with these guys on board. There's such a perfect flow to everything they do and it sounds so relaxed. So when I start to peel 'Blackfinger' and layer upon layer of intricate parts unfold, the ease they play all this with is flabbergasting. Add the emotions Eric brings out in the lyrics with his voice and you have massive album in your hands.
I rarely review an album song for song but with 'Blackfinger' I feel inclined to. There's something significant to say about each composition, so please indulge me if you will.
Starting out with 'I Am Jon' bold but great move. Most times it's a commercial suicide not opening with a blistering rocker, however this is not your ordinary wax. Slow, melancholic, foreboding and eerie the song is one to burn the midnight oil to, while contemplating thoughts and questions about life. 'Yellowood' picks up the pace with earth shattering riffs leading the way. Where 'I Am Jon' was the end of dark times this one gives you solace and piece of mind, where you can heal and reconstruct yourself. I find myself bouncing off the walls unable to restrain any kind of order when 'Why God' is unleashed. While Ben and Larry are laying down the law and groove on bass and drums respectively, Rico and Doug demolish what little resistance there is left in me with some amazing riffs. 'On Tuesday Morning' is for the most part a slow beautiful almost trippy creation but it virtually explodes in the chorus. To me this song represents the whole album, at least musically. What I mean is, the way it goes back and forth between different tempos is exactly how the songs on 'Blackfinger' are placed. Doing it this way gives the album room to breathe and it grows more cause each listen brings different nuances. All that could have been lost if it was done differently, instead the band has recorded a truly amazing album.
'As Long As I'm With You' is reflective and melancholic in nature and draws a lot from Pink Floyd musically. And I mean that in the best possible way. A piano and a cello takes the center stage along with Eric and they are backed only by Ben and Larry. Off the wall - no pun intended - just like Floyd did it but if you have the talent and confidence it will work, as it does here. It's a very beautiful track, indeed. Making up for their omission on the previous song, Rico and Doug are riffing ferociously through the beast that 'Here Comes The Rain' is. Picking up the pace my walls are shaking as the unrelentless twin-guitar attack give no respite. ' Keep Fallin' Down' brings 'I Am Jon' to mind although this one is semi-acoustic and very introspective lyrically. The heaviness returns with 'My Many Colored Days'. It's not a romper stomper kind of rocker but a mixture of heavy doom and psychedelia especially leading up to the blistering solo in the middle. Great stuff indeed!
The Pink Floyd influences return on 'For One More Day' although Eric reminds me of David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust era. A great kind of trippy song with a fantastic guitar solo...just close your eyes and drift away you hear! Going into bulldozer mode on 'All The Leaves Are Brown' Blackfinger simply crushes. The rhythm section keeps pounding me into the ground while the guitars shreds me to bits. Short, sweet and brutal and I absolutely love it. The band ends their debut with a groovy, heavy knuckleduster in the shape of 'Till Death Do Us Part'. And they couldn't have chosen a better way either. Coming at me like a prizefighter I struggle to duck and dive to avoid the blows aimed at my already broken frame.
As you have noticed Blackfinger's founder, Eric Wagner, has not been mentioned much and that was deliberate on my part. When talking about him it's virtually impossible to not mention his previous band Trouble and I wanted to keep that separated from Blackfinger...for the simple reason that they are two different entities. True, Eric is Trouble in many ways especially because of his remarkable voice but to be quite honest Blackfinger makes Trouble look like your average band.
It's been a very long time since I heard Eric sing on an album and I am absolutely stunned. You can tell he has wanted this for a long time because there is so much passion, emotion and fire in his voice. And best of all he sounds better than ever! This long wait for Eric's return is more than worth it since he has given us an incredible album.