Darkwater – Human Review

Release Date1 Mar 2019
Record LabelUlterium

It’s no secret that the world of prog metal has been dominated by the U.S.A. for nearly the past thirty years, largely due to the titanic time-changing Dream Theater, as well as bands such as Tool, Fates Warning, and Symphony X. As such, the genre as a whole tends to have a more typically American metal sound, relying more on heavy grooves and riffs rather than melody and vitality.

However, the Scandinavians have a knack for taking any music ever and turning it into their own lively, melodic brand. Darkwater’s Human is still very American-sounding at its core (or, should I say, late-Dream-Theatery at its core), but this adaptation is apparent and gives the album a far brighter feel. The hooks are catchy and the numerous symphonic, choir, and keyboard tracks that are consistently scattered throughout the album add a lot of depth and colour. The production quality is squeaky-clean and couldn’t be more well-balanced.

The musicianship on the record is great, but as far as prog bands go, it’s nothing exceptional. The solos and grooves are pretty tame by comparison but these guys do an excellent job at proving that you don’t need to be shredding like a fucking madman for an entire ten minute song in order to be a successful prog musician. I also absolutely love how the time changes feel so natural and aren’t overdone. The entire experience is fluid and cohesive.

Not a whole lot sticks out on this album, not because of lack of skill, but quite the opposite. That being said, there are a few specific parts that I really like. Henrik B├ąth’s vocals are simply perfect for this kind of band: expressive, clean, and not too overbearing. ‘Insomnia’ is probably the most power metal track on the album as well as my favourite (largely because of that mean synth solo). Another part that sticks out is the solo section in the final song, ‘Light Of Dawn’, which is mouth-wateringly tasteful.

This is a phenomenal prog album. It’s full of life and its musical anatomy contains many intricate and detailed parts, and everything works together in unison. As a result, the entire album flows like a powerful river.

Originally written for metal-observer.com

Darkwater – Alive (Pt. II) (Ulterium)

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