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Blackhearth - Blackhearth

by Mike McMahan at 21 December 2019, 11:18 PM

BLACKHEARTH, around since 2010 in various lineups and formats, recorded their first record in the harsh winter of 2018-2019 in Durango, Basque Country, Spain. Founding members (and driving forces) Asier Larrea and Alex Hernandez have formed a very competent, very talented group of musicians around them, and delivered a seven song, forty- three-minute aural assault of sometimes melodic, sometimes bombastic Heavy Metal.

The opening track, “Flying High”, showcases some great double kick drum licks and nice dual track guitar solo; as well as giving Julio Viega a few moments to pop a sweet keyboard lick or two in there. The song cooks, musically, and Is a very good opening cut. “Tarkers Mills”, the albums second track, has the same musical intensity. It starts with a very dark guitar intro, and gets heavier throughout. The song screams Prog Metal, but lacks in the delivery due to some unintelligible vocals and a somewhat heavy handed mix.

And there lies my problem with this record. There are moments where Alain Concepcion sounds almost monotone, screaming lyrics instead of projecting. His voice, at times he is at his best here, almost puts one in mind of a young Mike Howe of METAL CHURCH fame. There are other moments when he brings to mind some of the worst moments of SST era LA Punk.  Some of his brighter spots on this album are held within the tracks “The Truth You’ve Missed” and “The Magician”, both of which instantly recommend the record for me. Both are incredible arrangements and well written songs, bordering on some of the best new music I have heard in a while. As stated above, the vocal on “Tarker’s Mills” is very rough, and at times completely unintelligible. “Earls of Darkness”, starting out with some of the heaviest drum work I’ve heard since Vinnie Paul… then falls victim to the same symptom.

Please don’t get me wrong. These guys, and this record, are certainly worth the listen. They are as musically gifted as anyone I have heard in the genre. I would love to hear them with a more matured Concepcion as a front man, however; and would like to hear some more of the genius that crawls through tracks like “The Magician.” I have to recommend it, with a bit of reservation; but I hope their next release delivers a bit more.

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

3 Star Rating

1. Flying Away
2. Tarkers Mills
3. Face the Enemy
4. The Truth You’ve Missed
5. Earls of Darkness
6. The Magician
7. Blackhearth
Asier Larrea - Drums
Alex Hernandez - Guitar
Endika Ortega - Guitar
Alain Concepcion - Vocals
Jorge Sanchez - Bass
Julio Viega - Keyboards
Record Label: Sliptrick Records


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