Review Summary: A great modern rock record that pays tribute to its influences but retains plenty of individual spontaneity.
Rob Traynor- Vocals and Guitar
Johnny Fattoruso- Lead Guitar
Oddie McLaughlin- Bass
Mike Meselsohn- Drums
Black Water Rising is a fairly new band on the scene. Their self titled debut incorporates elements of Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Black Label Society to create a heavy modern rock sound that can at times be both hard hitting and melodic, often simultaneously. They feature full throated, melodic vocals with plenty of snarl. The band's first full length release is an aggressive record that shows the band creating what some may dub a radio ready sound, but it is done without sacrificing good songwriting, excellent lead and rhythm guitars, a visible rhythm section, and intelligent lyrics. The bands opts for a lot of distorted mid tempo rockers but isn’t afraid to speed up the tempo, create atmosphere, or play a freakout solo. The band will impress you with their ability to remind you of 90's rock past glories without coming across as campy or self pitying. It is a greatly consistent record that will leave you wondering why this band hasn't broken big yet.
The album starts off with "The Mirror," which has an atmospheric opener before ripping into the first riff. It repeats chorus and verse before Rob Traynor screams "The mirror never lies! " and lead guitarist Johnny Fatturuso rips into a shredding solo. First single "Brother Go On" is a catchy track that features a hooky chorus, great lyrics, and an awesome guitar break. "Hate Machine" has a lumbering chorus riff, but the band speeds it up towards the end to put on the exclamation point. “Black Bleeds Through” and "Blessed" retains the approach so far, with the band roaring through more riff fests and adding in a lot of guitar solo flare.
"No Halos" features a clean guitar intro (perhaps with some effects) before busting in with another riff monster. Traynor really reaches down on the choruses to show off his strong singing voice while exposing the flaws he sees in religion. "Living Proof" is a visceral reprimand on society by Traynor as he advocates for the downtrodden of the world. Traynor once again displays his pipes with some outstanding screams and growls. "Rise" sees the band back in mid tempo form and really bringing the thunder on the chorus. The bridge brings in some less distorted atmosphere and great room for Traynor and Fattoruso to show off their appreciation of guitarists like Jerry Cantrell and Zakk Wylde. The last three tracks "The River," "Sale On Your Soul," and "Burn It Down" show the band retaining their heavy, melodic sound to great effect.
On a final note, the selection of lyrics by Rob Traynor on this album is quite good. Traynor advocates integrity and virtue even in the face of despair and hardship. He is honest in his approach to questioning religion, capitalism, political corruption, and his own moral dilemmas. Traynor also seems to be a big advocate of the working man's struggle, as he reflects a blue collar attitude in his lyrical themes. It is greatly refreshing to see a modern rock band with the ability to combine grunge's inward looking approach with a firm, strong stance of perseverance. I would cite some specific examples but I think listeners will discover this easily enough on their own and should feel free to discuss it here.
Overall, a great modern rock record. The band is consistent with their sound and approach throughout the album, but that is a plus because the material here is performed uniformly well. For fans of anthemic, melodic hard rock.