Review Summary: Progressive progressions.
Allow me to introduce you to Darkwater, a band borrowing numerous tricks from Dream Theater, including: a symphonic side, plentiful piano, organ use, Indian music influence, self-harmonizations, and even a similar sounding singer. The song Turning Pages could’ve easily been on a Dream Theater record, perhaps the most generic song included on Human. The album falls into the derivative-of Dream Theater category, which has taken bands like Redemption and Circus Maximus despite the strength of their music. However, Darkwater generally make the formula their own, and create stunning songs in the process. However, like the previous bands mentioned, Darkwater take the old progressive formula, and give it a renovation, with stunning songs in the wake. For example, Reflection of a Mind is a testament to the band’s fantastic songwriting; nearly twelve minutes of metal, one might expect lost steam, yet I could only consider what a great song it was. That’s but one example of a long track, though I barely noticed the time fly throughout my experience with tracks.
Darkwater’s method to have an expansive sound and subsequently important sounding tracks pulls me in. One can always expect chunky, technical riffs and strong choruses as per the genre, but the band’s interplay and rhythmic flow is most impressive of all. From quieter segments to riff centric tornadoes, rather than a cluster of ideas with disconnection, the multitudes of transitions and numerous bridges are surprisingly cohesive. Still, the tracks always return to choruses, which have vast power.
Let’s not fail to note how gorgeous Darkwater’s sound is. From piano to riff, their music is endlessly pretty. The incredible production of the album boosts their fantastical soundscape even further, every note - even bass notes - audibly heard, and moreover fresh in a shiny new plastic wrap. Thanks to the production, Darkwater’s symphonic side is no mere afterthought, providing an authoritative presence. It’s quite a dynamic, melodic atmosphere with heavy guitars for the lead singer to work with, who sings better than you’d expect of Darkwater’s specific genre niche. In fact, there were many moments I rewinded songs to hear a sung note again.
Ultimately, Human is what you want from this era of progressive metal. However, it comes with lyrics that aren’t particularly memorable, and when considering the overall derivativeness of the album, it loses a little impact. Still, the question remains: is another prog metal album of this type really needed? Human answers that question with compelling tracks from front to back, even ending on a punchy song. Human may not be heralded as a classic prog metal release, but it has all the makings of one, and in my heart it is one.