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Black Lakes - For All We’ve Left Behind

Black Lakes
For All We’ve Left Behind
by Matt Bozenda at 29 April 2022, 10:48 PM

Consider humble Wales. Not just the royal seat of the crown’s successor or the home of town names with dozens of syllables, Wales has an extensive and interesting history, and the beautiful countryside is spoken of with reverence by legendary aging British rock stars. Add a string of top-class actors over several generations and it’s no wonder that the place has been a persistent talent pool for the world’s benefit.

Today, one drop from that pool has splashed on us like an Alt Metal tsunami. Brewing through singles since 2019, February saw the release of “For All We’ve Left Behind”, the stellar debut full-length of Welsh hexad BLACK LAKES. Though on the surface it would seem as little more than a 2000’s xerox job, the critical ear will pick up the endearing modernity of it, as an action of a bygone era, rather than a reaction.

Playing an older style can be risky, specifically in sounding straight-up outdated, but from the first full song “Avarice”, it is clear the band has found a way to beat the odds. That’s given further evidence on tracks like “Verity In Flames” and “The Divide”, and the Alt-Metal vibe is really given a good lean on “Ghosts (Of Our Memories)”.

The band still makes time to roam and add some variety. “Dissident”, a sleeper hit, has a sort of Eastern flavor to its rhythm. A heavier approach than usual is taken on “Deathrone” to great effect. Songs like “Fragment” do have a tendency to sound atavistically throwback-ish, as does the title track, but they still rein in the nostalgia to sound like fleshed out homages rather than copies.

By the numbers this is a techie’s dream. A little lengthy at forty-eight minutes, it averages out pretty well over its dozen tracks so that no one song feels clunky or out of place, and it avoids feeling like the album is too long. On a road trip it could really eat up the miles, and, while this may sound like a knock, it really isn’t one: this is also a great album for burgeoning high-school age metalheads. “For All We’ve Left Behind” is neither overly complex nor boringly simple, and isn’t so caught up in genre that it’s inaccessible to anyone.

There really is not much working against what BLACK LAKES has done here. Though some will argue that it’s an underwhelming tribute to an underwhelming time, it seems that “For All We’ve Left Behind” could actually be a firm foundation from which the band can grow. There aren’t many mistakes to be found on the technical side, which means the only thing holding them back now is the songwriting, which is, perhaps unfortunately, solidly average. They are good at what they’re doing though, and with a confident step forward, it could make them great. Album two will have quite a high ceiling.

Musicianship: 8
Songwriting: 6
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Exordium
2. Avarice
3. Dissident
4. Fragments
5. Verity In Flames
6. The Divide
7. Landslide
8. Ghosts (Of Our Memories)
9. Deathrone
10. Break The Silence
11. For All We’ve Left Behind
12. Black Days Come
Lineup:
Will Preston - lead vocals
Scott Bradshaw - guitars and vocals
James Rowlands - guitars and vocals
Lee Harris - bass
Dylan Burris - lead guitars
Dafydd Fuller - drums and vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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