Unknown & Underrated – Darkwater
Anyone who has been reading this blog since the early days will recognise my ‘unknown and underrated’ series of posts. In this series, I hoped to shine the spotlight on bands that I felt were drastically underrated or worse, unknown to the larger rock/metal populous for one reason or another. Each blog mentioned three bands and featured a small précis of the music as well as a track or two to illustrate why I considered them to be special.
The posts can all be viewed here:
Unknown & Underrated – Part 1
Unknown & Underrated – Part 2
Unknown & Underrated – Part 3
Unknown & Underrated – Part 4
Unknown & Underrated – Part 5
Unknown & Underrated – Part 6
By popular demand, I am reprising this series. The one difference this time around is that I will only feature one band per post so that I can go into slightly greater detail about them. In the coming weeks, I also hope to revisit the older posts and expand on a number of the bands that may have been missed first time around.
The first band to feature in this new format is…drum roll…
Swedish metal band Darkwater have been on my radar for a few years now and are a band that I return to on a pretty frequent basis. Formed in 2003 in Boras, Sweden, they have released two albums within their decade of activity, ‘Calling The Earth To Witness’ and ‘Where Stories End’ some three or so years later. Not enough as far as I’m concerned.
The output of this quintet is best defined loosely as progressive metal, although there is a lot more to the band than that. The most noticeable aspect of Darkwater’s sound is the lashings and lashings of keyboards that permeate every single composition. We’re not talking keyboards and synths in the virtuosic vein of Dream Theater et al, where they wander off on tangents and play lead duels with the guitars. Instead, the keys provide a dense and rich atmosphere upon which the compositions are built and through which a tangible sense of sadness is conveyed.
What I particularly enjoy about Darkwater’s approach is that they don’t sacrifice the more traditional ‘metal’ elements of their sound to allow the keyboards to shine. The rhythm section is extremely solid and the guitars provide a proper and satisfying crunch throughout, although don’t expect much in the way of solos or lead breaks. In many ways, Darkwater’s approach reminds me of Evergrey. They are not clones of their compatriots, but there are some parallels to be heard for certain.
Delving into the compositions themselves, the band tends to favour more lengthy songs and so, when coupled with the keyboards, it lends the material a rather epic feel. That being said, the sophomore release did address this to a certain extent and as a result, the tracks generally sit more around the five-six minute mark rather than seven or eight minutes. No less epic in my opinion, just a little more focussed and honed.
Darkwater are big on melody and so expect to find some big choruses and memorable hooks that will no doubt entice you into repeated listens. And the more you listen, the more you find. Not everything is offered up to the listener on a plate and whilst there is an undeniable immediacy to much of the material, little gems here and there will only reveal themselves in time.
All-in-all, Darkwater are a band that is definitely worthy of further exposure and I hoped I’ve piqued your interest enough to check them out.