It's been two years since Sludge metal outfit The Black Swamp released Foulness, an absolute belter of an Ep, and shortly after the sonic assault of single Cold Dead Hands. In my previous article about these guys, I was purring over what developments might be on the next release and I finally get to find out.
Founded in 2012, this band are all about playing live and the recorded work up 'til now has been making me want to sell my home to pay for flights to witness it! These guys present such a party vibe, they've even had a beer named after them!
They will be unleashing the album I Am into your aural galaxy on 29 September. It can be pre ordered on bandcamp and will be available on all your normal download and streaming services.
Opening with the acoustically led Kin, a moody track with a spoken peice that reminded me of Weedeater's Dave Collins, is not what I expected, but I liked it, I also knew it i was about to get smacked in the ears.
And the aural smacks come in the form of Exhale and the first track to be released, Purge. Exhale is A heavy, no nonsense groove ridden track. Purge is an immensely heavy sludge stomper. Early signs show, as I'd hoped, that the vocal performance still has the range and nuances in delivery that make vocalist Stewart Wren a frontman with few peers.
Common Crows, with it's sublime southern sludge, touched by the hand of Skynyrd style is a triumph and an ode to the song writing capabilities of The Black Swamp as a group.
Crawl opens with a dark lo-fi opening offset by Wren's growl. Musically, it soon catches up with the vocal. It is an interesting, mood driven track, and is probably the hardest track to access for the listener. It is a grower though and it's impossible not to be drawn in by the guitar work.
Barricade and Ours are are short bursts of energy. Barricade stepped in hardcore delivery is high on impact, whereas Ours is a stomping sludgefest. Two hard hitting, to the point tracks.
It's then that The Black Swamp take us to epicville with Mountain (I Am). And it's a track that has everything. Again Wren shows his vocal range with switching from scream to clean. Musically is heavy and melodic with a great solo and there's even a lovely warm backing vocal display from Caity Solca and a flute section by Melanie Woodley. It is not hard to see why their upcoming tour was named after this rangy, stylish, masterful track.
Hollowed returns us to firm heavy sludge territory. With riffs it's impossible not to move too it's a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
The album ends with the journey that is Bleed Mother. A performance full of emotion vocally and musically, it is 9 and a half minutes of imagination capturing brilliance and a simply stunning way to close an album.
You sometimes hear albums where the first 4 tracks are amazing and the rest are good but not great, and you call it a good album. This is NOT that album. It ends on higher note than it left with and is overflowing with great tracks.
I said in my first review that they display a variance of styles and perform them all well. They still have this element, however the delivery is more focused and it is a clear step up for the band from the already excellent Foulness EP. Musically, it is incredibly well performed and written throughout and has one of the best heavy vocal performances I've heard in some time.
If you're already a fan of The Black Swamp, they're about to become your favourite band. If you haven't really heard them yet there's no better introduction than I Am.
Even havin heard it, it is impossible not to get excited about the release of I Am.
Score 5 out of 5
Stand Out Tracks: Common Crows, Mountain (I Am), Mother Bleed
Stewart Wren - Vocals
Jesse Kenny -Guitar
Grant Scott - Guitar
Rohan Downs - Bass
Brendan Woodley - Drums.
Article by Jonathan Radley
Photo Credits: K.C Ward