Blackmaker – Staggering To The Surface (CD)

Blackmaker plays a branch of pop-rock that has parallels in bands like Switchfoot and Nickelback, and while many practitioners of this system are nothing more than apers of the style (Damage and Ditchwater are two of the bands that illustrate that example fairly well), Blackmaker plays the style in terms that are their own. Both “Spiraling” and “Let It Go” start off the disc with a tremendous amount of momentum, tying together antiseptic but intricate guitar lines with compelling vocals. In fact, it is during “Good Day” that the arrangement of Blackmaker really seems to be influenced by Fear Factory, a fact that will keep true metalheads happy.

The flip-mode style of “All About A Girl”, a slow, pop-rock ballad will undoubtedly trouble listeners that were expecting much of the same, but no worry – the vocals come to save the day much like Aaron Lewis saved the decidedly sub-par Staind. Even if the subject material is, sorry for the pun a little “tongue-in-cheek” during “Wicked Tongue”, Blackmaker is able to make a rock track in this song that is truly manufactured for the dance track. This track is of note because it is influenced by the geometric rock of bands like Franz Ferdinand only slightly; what makes this track so dance-worthy is just a modification of the same general sound that is present throughout the rest of the disc. Definitely taking a tip from KISS, “Not Impressed” is the best representation of Blackmaker’s sonic assault. It is not as if the rest of the material on “Staggering To The Surface” is extraordinarily dense, technical metal but “Not Impressed” seems to be the track that was prepped for greater fame. The echo present on “Novocaine” seems to be the only thing that diminishes the impact of the track; the presence of the guitar-bass dynamic really makes this into a track that is worthwhile.

“Things Get Any Worse” shows the weird mixture of country and metal that has seemed to take control of the minds of a lot of former metal-heads; the vocals on the track seem to look more to Hank than to Rob. Overall, Blackmaker has came out with “Staggering To The Surface” at a time when metal (aside from System of a Down) is at its most depressing, least innovative point. Blackmaker has came out with a solid, album-centered (instead of track-centered) disc, and here’s to hoping more comes out of this band in the near future.

Top Tracks: Still Waiting, Let It Go

Rating: 7.8/10

Blackmaker – Staggering To The Surface / 2005 Kentland / 13 Tracks / http://www.blackmaker.com / http://www.kentlandrecords.com / Reviewed 02 July 2005

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