Black Swamp Water – Awakening (Album Review)

You might be forgiven to listen to the album and expect these guys to come from outta the darkest alligator-infested countryside of southern North America where brawls abound over mislaid kisses and Dodge Vipers parked out back comes. These northern Europeans from Denmark have a good deal of southern rock and hard rock flowing through their veins.

These are guys that you are going to invite to share some Gammel Dansk: Bjørn Bølling Nyholm (vocals), Jan Geert (guitar), Thomas Roland (guitar), Jeppe Birch Friis (bass), and Kim Langkjær Jensen (drums). Produced and mixing duties again handled by mixing, courtesy of Tue Madsen and his Antfarm Studios (Moonspell, Artillery, Dark Tranquillity). Mighty Music is due to release the album on 20 August ’21.

Right from the start, they assault us with some crunching riffage that makes you want to pick up a Gibson, turn the volume up (to the max I would’ve thought), and play to an imagined epic crowd in front of you soaking in the rock. ‘Roll Over‘ immediately showcases their energy and attention to detail. Strong-willed rock overtones caressed by little nuances throughout the music give this music a kaleidoscopic effect.

We have the rhythm guitar up front mounting a strong forward offence with the lead guitar striking in the background with lashings of fillers in all ranges of what guitars can do. Coming out of the solos of ‘Endless War’ and into the closing stages of the song we have an array of sounds including some heavy wah pedal. All the elements in the song work neatly together with plenty of variation. What’s refreshing on this album are the solos that might occur here and there either in full or lightly touched giving the songs a different shape. When solos are played we have a heap of passion coming through. They add flavour to the song recipe as opposed to trying to take over. The beauty of the lead guitar is what it does behind the scenes.

Enjoying the first couple of songs lulled me into the belief this is a classic hard-rocking outfit the next two songs take on different cadences. Considering the drummer has a pedigree in the death metal genre (Dawn of Demise, Illdisposed, and Koldborn) ‘Endless War’ showcases some venomous double bass death metal drumlines stepping up the metal game. They then slow down relatively speaking into ‘Send me away’ with its bluesy rock style acoustic sections.

While not fully aware of the origin of the name but if Black Swamp Water was the cause of the inflictions on the person in the album we need to prevent this from happening. The scene is Zombie-like and distressing. The lack of colour is quite stark with the filter creating a disturbing scene as much from the contents.

It’s almost as if highlights that something is missing and has either destroyed what once was or has awakened something that we never want to be.

A number of influences have been cited by the band C.O.C. shines through on the guitars on ‘Disappoint me‘ with groovy down-tuned guitar. The groove continues into ‘Children of the Grave’ where bass and drums act as the V8 engine kickstarted into gear to chariot the chorus of the guitars along their journey down the road to Groovesville. While it carries a simple beat and is possibly the least complicated riff on the album the sonic aesthetics work well to provide exactly what you need in an album: something to entertain.

The vocals are clean and distinctive. Lyrics work well alongside the music. At times perhaps I thought the vocals didn’t stand up as well during the more sensitive sections such as in ‘Hammer You Down‘ that the overall perception of them was not as well polished as the rest of the band. Needless to say, you will be singing along to the album with clenched fist-pumping.

Badass rock ‘n rollers and anyone who likes groove-driven rock then this album will be right up there for you. All the instruments work solidly together to showcase them all. Varied drums patterns and different audio gems here and there will constantly provide an album that can be listening to.

1. Roll Over
2. Showdown
3. Endless War
4. Send Me Away
5. Better Days
6. Disappoint Me
7. Children Of The Grave
8. Now That I Know
9. Hammer You Down

Black Swamp Water: Facebook

Release Year: 2021
Label: Mighty Music
Category: Album
Country: Denmark

Reviewed by Byron Lotz