Black Swamp Water – Awakening Review

There were two times I almost stopped reviewing Black Swamp Water‘s Awakening. No, no, don’t run away yet. Funny enough, it’s not because of the album. I actually really like the album. Well… once I figured out what it was. I grabbed this promo from the rattlesnake and scorpion-infested bin at AMG’s Southwest office because I thought it was thrash. See, I’ve been on a thrash kick lately and I had no qualms grabbing another thrash release to review. The band name didn’t exactly strike me as a band that played thrash. But, who am I to judge?1 Maybe they’re swampy thrashers from the South, like Pantera and Exhorder. But, this is no thrash band. Everything I know about life is a lie. As I listened to their hard-rocking sound, I began researching their story. But, like a n00b, I searched for Black Water Swamp, and I found this. Thankfully, Black Swamp Water isn’t a bluesy classic rock outfit from a Florida retirement community. Instead, they are a bluesy, Southern metal outfit from Denmark. I know, that doesn’t make sense either.

Are you as exhausted as I am now? And, after all that, I discovered that this isn’t the band’s first rodeo. Awakening is the band’s third LP in five years. After partaking in their 2018 release, Distant Thunder, I’ve found it to be a solid collection of road metal tunes. It has all the same elements of their Chapter One debut, but it’s far more cohesive. Though it’s still good, Chapter One sounds like a best-of collection. One moment, there’s Wylde-era Ozzy Osbourne, and the next, a clone of Down‘s swampiness. Distant Thunder, instead, captures the bits and pieces and folds them together. There are head-bobbing rippers, bluesy foot-tappers, and emotion-filled sappers. It’s nothing groundbreaking but it’s a good time. And, thankfully, Awakening picks up right where Distant Thunder left off.

Opener “Roll Over” brings two things to the party: cowbell and beefy riffs reminiscent of Ozzmosis-era Ozzy. Its follow-up, “Showdown,” shares in the push to give the album a good pace. Also, both display some fun, addictive choruses. But, while these songs trudge along with a hard-rocking attitude, “Disappoint Me” drops some mean-as-hell lyrics.2 But the band does take a break from some of the predictability with “Endless War” and a cover of Sabbath classic “Children of the Grave.” The former carries some of the heaviness of “Showdown,” but with a Trivium flavor to it—especially in the chorus. 

As one would expect from the style, we also have melodic movers like “Send Me Away” and “Better Days.” “Send Me Away” houses my favorite chorus on the record. There’s a lot of passion in the gruff voice, which ascends with the guitar chords. The band has a handful of songs in this vein, but this is one of their best. “Better Days,” interestingly enough, reminds me of Metallica‘s “Hero of the Day.” I can especially hear it in the chorus. The song also has that major-key upbeatness that makes you smile even when you know you’re going to die someday.

So, yeah, I know some of the name-drops have deflated your Archspire erections. But, honestly, Black Swamp Water is a band to check out if you enjoy that Southern metal influence. It’s hard to gauge if Distant Thunder is better than Awakening but, regardless, the band is really starting to hone in on their craft. Sure, it’s not original and taken from borrowed pieces. But, it’s the kind of album you can put on and no one will complain. Not to mention, its master is so soothing to the ears.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Mighty Music
Websites: blackswampwater.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/blackswampwater
Releases Worldwide: August 20th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. You shut up.
  2. I hope you don’t have daddy issues.
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