Review by Monty Sewell for MPM
Rarely do we come across a bands debut album that is so definitive in its imagery, intentions and integrity that we immediately grade it in a class of its own.
Black Lakes ‘For All We’ve Left Behind’ does just this and I’m not in the slightest ashamed to say I haven’t stopped listening to the damn great thing since it was first sent over.
For a band who will have released seven of the twelve album tracks as singles before the compilation drops, I initially wasn’t sure what to expect from the rest of the material.
We as a creative industry tend to forgive those duff B side tracks that inevitably find their way onto record. But with these seven singles being already pretty good…. I mean that’s over 50% of the group right there so the odds of the streak continuing had to be in their favour.
Will Preston (vocals) Scott Bradshaw (guitar) James Rowlands (guitar) Dylan Burris (lead guitar) Lee Harris (bass) and Dafydd Fuller (drums) have plastered themselves against greyed, tarnished landscapes since 2018. Describing themselves as ‘blurring the lines between hard rock and alternative metal’ it’s only really when you take a seat – beer in hand – and queue up that intro track that you realise there may be a few more genre ridden layers beneath.
All great albums start with a vision; a warrant for a musicians self professed journey to later cast upon their audience. ‘For All We’ve Left Behind’s intro track, ‘Exordium’, acts as the perfectly procured prelude to what Black Lakes is offering. In the age of instant gratification, it is clear from this opener that what follows will be as thought through and precise in its expression.
Speaking of current times, song number two on the album -‘Avarice’ – speaks of societal rage towards the greed and malice that engorges much of our everyday lives. With a no fuss, straight on it, 16 bar in your face opening, the reckoning has begun. Preston belts out ‘We can’t breathe money!’ as half time glories and brooding vocal intensities rain down.
It’s followed up by ‘Dissident’, first released back in 2019 as Black Lakes’ second single. Described by the band as a ‘song of resistance’, the sonance of defiance against oppression rings out with every breathe. The lyrical strength seems to lie within its accessibility throughout; it exudes a sense of relatable perseverance.
‘Fragments’ is next and it certainly is a fitting title. The band really show off their musicianship to the full, jumping from a hardcore punk verse into a classic heavy metal screech bridge before levelling out into an emotive-sailing, climactic straight rock chorus.
It’s clear Preston’s forte lies within the big vocal waves and well timed screams. Whereas their youngest member, Fuller, shows exceptional skill as not just a promising drummer, but as one already moulding the backdrops of every number with stealth and ability.
The next two tracks come head to head as Black Lakes’ first and currently last single released. ‘Verity In Flames’ came out on the 11th February this year and ‘The Divide’ back in 2018. Whilst there are evident post production additions to ‘Verity in Flames’ – which may hold their graces to band longevity and renowned producer Romesh Dodangoda – it can be forthrightly said that the band knew how to write big then, and remain in the know now.
Seemingly masters of a well placed track listing, Black Lakes then bring in the emotionally charged ‘Landslide’. Lines such as ‘light that burns from the wreckage, are the same that draw us in’ holds a different meaning when the devastating background of the songs inspiration is known. Harris’ notable bassline provides the crunch hold that anchors each melody.
The final act of the albums middle ground solidly graces us in the form of ‘Ghosts (Of Our Memories)’. A difficult subject can always spawn intensity in the wrong places but here they create a place for rage to be felt in an ambiguous but purposeful way.
As we lift ourselves out of the rubble, ‘Deathrone’ captures us in all its head banging grandeur. Black Lakes really allow themselves to drop kick their leather bound might right into the depths of heavy metal wrath.
But it’s not until ‘Break The Silence’ that we truly get to appreciate the triple threat guitar conviction the guys so harmoniously spin in place. Bradshaw, Burris and Rowlands provide cause for an un-overdubbed sensation that I personally cannot wait to see live.
And what is an album without its title track? ‘For All We’ve Left Behind’ swivels in as the albums standout ballad. ‘For all the damage done, am I the only one?’. Though live musicians through and through, it’s still nice to hear those electronic elements dance in and out quietly, adding an abundance of modern alternative metal qualities that are rife in the current industry. I’m sure we’ll see this one in their upcoming shows.
The end of the albums road is bittersweet as I’m sure it will be to most. Giving emanations of Soundgardens infamous Black Hole Sun, comes the final ‘secret track’, ‘Black Days Come’. Fantastically dripping with every sense of inclination, the colossol chorus centric song drags us forward into a deep yearning for more.
After a few untiring listens to the album I managed to get in touch with the band to get their take on what seems like a long thought out, long coming album. Here’s what the guys had to say: ‘Due to the pandemic, recording this album has spanned over three years, and in that time, we feel we’ve grown as a band. It’s really cool to have captured that journey sonically, and to finally be able to listen to the album in its final form after all this time.’
As every band knows, in a world where a fully live scene has been interactively unaccessible, it’s certainly a blessing to finally see the fruits of hard work. I’m very glad to have caught Black Lakes in the midst of their inevitable rise and cannot wait to see what they do in the coming years.
For those wanting to catch them on the road, the band have stated the following…’We’re starting to book shows throughout the year, including a headline show at FUEL in Cardiff on 26.03.2022 and a slot at Wildfire Festival on 03.07.2023, and are hopeful that as the world starts to get back to normal, we can play a lot lot more shows this year in support of the album.’
Pre-Order the debut album ‘For All We’ve Left Behind’ – https://blacklakes.bigcartel.com
Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/artist/2ebS9.
Follow BLACK | LAKES Official site – https://www.blacklakes.com
Facebook – https://www.Facebook.com/blacklakes
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