Led by former Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner, Blackfinger made quite an impression with their self-titled debut back in 2014. Since that time, Wagner has vacated his hometown of Chicago, enlisting an entirely new cast of musicians in Pittsburgh. I had my doubts that Blackfinger would even make a 2nd album, given Wagner’s relocation as well as his increased involvement with The Skull. But much to my pleasant surprise, here we are with a new lineup and a new record, When Colors Fade Away.

The opening title track reveals the new-and-improved Blackfinger to be a surprisingly agile and live-sounding band. Bassist Matthew Cross takes the spotlight on several occasions with some melodic and upfront playing, while drummer David Snyder avoids typical doom plodding in favor of jazzy Bill Ward-isms. And having Terry Weston and Matthew Tuite (both ex-Penance) on board certainly can’t hurt. The two of them deal in fuzzier, more classic territory than what went down on Blackfinger‘s debut, inching somewhat closer to  The Skull‘s wheelhouse.

As for Wagner himself? If the album title didn’t tip you off, he’s still not in a particularly uplifting mood. The music on Colors may or may not qualify as doom metal, but the lyrical outlook is about as dark as it gets. He seems to have mostly retired his trademark higher range, spending most of the record speak-singing in a chillingly detached baritone. “All My Sorrow” seems to hang a lampshade on Wagner’s current mood: “Hush little babies, don’t you cry/You know your daddy was born to die/All my troubles will soon be gone.” Also of note is the chorus of “Crossing The River Turmoil,” in which Wagner seems to be reading the opening of a last will and testament. Happy music, this is not.

Luckily, there are a few rays of light amongst all this darkness. “Can I Get A Witness” packs a slightly harder punch than the other tracks, with a grooving cowbell riff and a brief return of Wagner’s screeching higher register. “Waiting For The Sun” (no, not the Doors tune) is a mellow, somewhat psychedelic love song, somewhere between Trouble‘s Manic Frustration era and perhaps early Soundgarden. There seems to be more then a little sarcasm in the lyrics to closing track “Till We Meet Again,” as well. And don’t even get me started on “My Old Soul,” which repurposes the nursery rhyme “Old King Cole” to bizarre effect.

With the exception of perhaps one or two tracks, Colors is a pretty lethargic affair even by doom standards. Aside from Wagner’s aforementioned vocal approach, he has also recycled quite a few lyrics from earlier albums of his, although that’s par for the course on his last few projects. And while the band seem to be more at home with slower tempos, I do think this album could have used just one or two faster, more energetic tracks for variety’s sake. For what it’s worth, though, Colors is more consistent in tone than Blackfinger‘s debut, which had 2-3 rock songs scattered awkwardly amongst a lot of ballads.

In the grand scheme of things, Blackfinger Mach II manages to expand on the promise of the debut, while feeling like a different band entirely (because, y’know…it is). The new lineup is a significant improvement, and the songs themselves are memorable enough to worm their way into your brain after repeated listens. While it’s more of a “doom” record in mood than in actual musical style, When Colors Fade Away is still a worthy addition to Eric Wagner’s lengthy discography.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: M-Theory Audio
Websites: blackfinger.net | facebook.com/blackfinger
Releases Worldwide: September 15th, 2017

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  • This a a downer of a doom album, and I mean that in a good way.

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      Best voice in doom IMHO.
      Especially the old Trouble lps.

      • Master of Muppets

        I subscribe to the Saturnus school of slow sonic sadness, and as such I’d say Slow’s singer/screamer steals that show, sir.
        But then again, that’s, like, just my opinion, man.

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Wagner has this inherent anguish and tremor to his voice that fits so well with the genre. Plus when he drops out if his high register he sounds like the weary, English Butler of some creepy old British estate like the one in The Others.

          But….that’s just MHO.

          • Master of Muppets

            Dude does his thing admirably, f’sho, this just seemed as good a place as anywhere to plug Slow. Their latest, V – Oceans, is probably my top doom album of 2017, though doom is such an expansive subgenre that it’s almost impossible to nail even that much down. Top 3 for sure, doomwise anyway, and fighting violently for a spot in my overall ’17 top ten. What a mess that list is…

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Hmmm…..I gotta check that out then.
            Yeah I’d say Loss and Temple of Void is tops for me right now….lots of fringe stuff like Elder and Sun of the Sleepless that maybe tip away from true doom too much to be considered.
            Foscor was great too.
            Idfk

          • Master of Muppets

            There’s no wrong way to doom, yo.

          • Brutalist_Receptacle

            FVCK YEAH LOSS
            FVCK YEAH SUN OF THE SLEEPLESS

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            The Wolf from Trouble’s self titled album is still my all time fav doom track.

          • joanismylover

            I’m so afraid. …… Wolf knows where I am.

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Dude.
            Deluge is phenomenal.

          • Master of Muppets

            RIGHT?!

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            I’m addicted to this Slow album. Do they have any other good releases?

          • Master of Muppets

            They had one a few years ago that I need to revisit, but if you dig this you should certainly look into the other works of the mastermind behind Slow – one Markov Soroka – namely Aureole and Tchornobog. Both are more black metal than doom, Aureole focusing on atmosphere and space imagery with Tchornobog being just vile, putrid black metal gold for the strongest of hearts.

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            I’m not a huge black metal fan….although I enjoy it when it has lots of melody or quirks.
            Slow reminded me of Clouds and a bit of Epitaph.

          • Master of Muppets

            There’s hope for you, yet. It took longer for me to get into black metal than any of the other sub genres, but once I did… Well, there’s an axiom for that. It takes more effort on my end to delve into anything that isn’t at least slightly blackened now that I’ve seen the dark light. Thankfully, so, so, sooo much is possible within those cold confines, and I can traverse sonic grounds both harrowing and beautiful without ever leaving the blackmosphere. There’s plenty of truly terrible black metal, but there is some trvly glorious shit out there as well, you just have to wait until your soul is properly darkened. I believe in you.

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Thanks man.
            Right now Tribulation, Violet Cold, Grift and the like are as black as I get.

          • Dr_Fisting

            Yeah, he’s definitely got the English butler thing going on. Oddly, his speaking voice has a pretty strong Chicago accent.

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Gave the new Slow a few spins today. Sounds great…wish there was a bit more percussion though….

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Nevermind….found the drums with my headphones lol

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Yes!
    Wags!

  • Blackfinger? What’s next, Hot Carl?

    • The Unicorn

      Dirty Sanchez!

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        Chicago Sunroof!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Cleveland Steamer!

    • [not a Dr]

      Dutch Oven!

  • El_Cuervo

    I like this record but it’s nothing on the last one for me. That last one was great.

  • I.B. Hurtin

    Very nice!

  • John Mosley

    Blackfinger is not a Stinkfinger.

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      Depends on the fingeree. …

      • John Mosley

        I heard that Freddy got fingered sometime in the early aughts.

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Tom Green’s shining moment lol

  • Bas

    Yes !

  • The singer sounds like one of the guys in flight of the conchords and now I can’t take it seriously.

    • Syn

      Jemaine. And yes he does a bit. I didn’t notice on my own, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I can’t unhear it.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    Umm this sounds JUST like The Skull. Really? Umm why not just release another SKULL ALBUM!!