Black Lakes – For All We’ve Left Behind
Black Lakes extended album review – For All We’ve Left Behind’
Release date – 22/02/22
Review by Victoria Llewelyn for Midnight Tornato – Music News and Events
- Verity In Flames
- The Divide
- Ghosts [Of Our Memories]
- Break The Silence
- For All We’ve Left Behind
- Black Days Come
Hard Rock / Alt Metal band Black Lakes release their long-awaited debut this February, and if ever an album was worth waiting for, this is the one. Formed in 2018, these six South East Wales based extraordinarily talented boys have been through hell and high water to get this album through to release, including almost leaving the entire second half in a pub, holing themselves up like hobbits in a cave for months working on samples and harmonies, co-producing the entire thing with Romesh Dodangoa in Cardiff, and generally battling all the obstacles that making a killer album during the time of COVID entails. They have put in some serious graft, and it has paid off in shedloads.
Twelve tracks of pure hardcore alt-metal refinement make up this powerhouse of music, which effortlessly blends in visceral, distorted power chords, angst suffused vocals, incredibly intricate drumming and tough, earth-shaking basslines. Add to this the adept use of samples, melodic vocal harmonies and expert syncopation and this album constitutes the perfection of its genre. This is the kind of album you can play over and over, and yet still come across elements you didn’t hear before. It is intense, passionate, highly skilled and intelligent. Kick back, close eyes, play loud and absorb it all, it will bring you so much more than you’ll be expecting.
As live performances are starting to pick up again after the cautious re-emergence of gigs and shows, MTMNAE are incredibly proud to host the Fuel Cardiff show and will be welcoming them to Station 18 festival on Sunday 1st May. The album was launched with a live set at The Patriot with support from Scarsun, against a background of howling winds and tempestuous weather conditions outside – could this be fate? and it says everything about the band that so many fans were prepared to brave the most hideous storm and travel conditions to get there and be part of it.
To really do this album justice every song needs to be mentioned, there is nothing that can in all good conscience be left out. Breaking us in are the eerie, unsettling tones of ‘Exordium’, a sinister, vocal free melody with some excellent electronics that gives us a flash of insight as to what’s to come. Short and not at all sweet. Then straight into ‘Avarice’, an anthem for all lovers of the darker, nu-metal style of alternative rock that can shake you to your core. Chunky guitars and vocal diversity between Will Preston’s angsty baritone depths and well placed demonic screams drive this track straight to your soul. ‘Dissident’ follows much in the same vein, that sense of theatrical nihilism pushing strongly through the dense yet somehow elegant guitars and offbeat drums. Three tracks in and I know already how addicted I’m going to become to these songs. There are echoes of all my favourite industrial, alternative and nu metal bands yet more originality than you could imagine – this is the Black Lakes sound.
The more familiar sounding ‘Fragments’ comes next, this was released as a single with a mind-blowing accompanying video. It’s a fast-paced banger of a track that races along, its disruptive, in-your-face, noisy and poweful. Again, complex speed drums make me wonder if Daf Fuller has several extra pairs of arms that we can’t see. ‘Fragments’ is chock full of tempo changes and break ups, accent shifts and counterpoint rhythm and it packs one hell of a thrill. One of my favourites I think.
Recent release ‘Verity In Flames’ (Verity meaning truth) goes all the way to showcase the talent of every band member; released after the unavoidable hiatus with the mission to remind everyone what Black Lakes can do, fiercely making the statement that the band are BACK and making some serious noise. The single has done brilliantly, a dutifully dramatic start, a healthy dash of electronica giving it that industrial edge, outrageous drums, low growls in the vocals, guitars and bass focussed on rhythm and distortion. It’s the drums that do it for me on this track personally, the speed and technicality is second to none.
‘The Divide’ continues the heavier, nu-metal grind with brooding, slowed vocals, brutally followed up by ‘Landslide’ with its immersive vocal harmonies and searing guitar sections – this track feels overflowing with emotion and Lee Harris is heavier on the bass which compliments the ravaged intensity it carries. ‘Ghosts (of our memories)’ continues in the same way – charged with sentiment and fervour, poignant lyrics – ‘silence is deafening’ dropped in during the stripped back moments for maximum effect. Brilliance.
‘Deathrone’ is up next reminding us of the sheer power of the triple guitar effect; Bradshaw, Rowlands and Burris combining their skills, deriving beauty from cacophony, and just when you think this record can’t get any more intense, they drop ‘Break The Silence’ in. After a melodic start it hits hard, the guitars are as heavy as they can be, an anthemic onslaught striking in its intensity.
The thoughtful introspection of the title track – ‘For All We’ve Left Behind’ gives a bittersweet insight into the losses of the last two years, the sentiment enhanced by the stripped back style and exposed vocals. For this one we lose the heavy guitars and instead experience emotive vocal harmonies. It takes a calculated risk and pays off massively, another direction Black Lakes have ventured towards and discovered they can nail down beautifully.
Finally, ‘Black Days Come’, and again, a slightly different angle here with solo guitar at the beginning and an easy, laconic pace we haven’t heard from the band yet. This one’s another firm favourite with me. Its strangely peaceful, ardent and thoughtful. Not what you’d expect, but I love albums where you get a dose of the unexpected.
It’s taken three years to finally get this album over the finish line and the sense of achievement Black Lakes must feel has to be huge; driven on by sheer passion for what they do in the face of just about any adversity that can befall a musician, including a certain drummer accidentally leaving half the tracks behind after a boozy night out. Its significance can’t be underestimated. Even the cover art is reflective of that which lies within, grey and black tones, a desolate, atmospheric landscape, light and darkness, shadows and hope. Seven singles have been released before the album finally dropped, the music is not unknown, but what we really need now is to hear it played live, and I know that’s what the boys can’t wait to get their teeth into.
It’s difficult to describe how an album can be darkly melancholic, verging on nihilistic at times, and yet leave you feeling so inspired and enlivened. Much as the album characterises hopelessness and oppression it really isn’t something that harnesses depression. There’s a sense of aspiration and surety, of looking to the future, of solidarity and connection with each other. Much anticipated and very much needed, this album has come along at exactly the right time and I hope it’s going to be the first of many.
Victoria Llewelyn (for Midnight Tornado – Music News and Events)
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