With them entering the studio this month to record their début LP it seems like a good time to do a little article about a band that is new to me, but one of my favourite finds in years, The Black Swamp.
If their EP “Foulness” and subsequent track (and video) “Cold Dead Hands” is anything to go by, then I am anticipating something pretty special, and I hope after reading this and hearing some music, you will be too.
The Black Swamp are already well in the process of making a name for themselves and have supported the likes of Hell Yeah and the almighty Black Label Society. Some readers may already be well versed in their sound. If you’re not read on, if you are read on anyway, I’d be interested to get your opinions of this article……
The Black Swamp are a band who, for me, capture a bit of the spirit of Pantera, and take me back to the happiness I felt and the “how the fuck am I only just hearing this” feeling I had when I first discovered what came to be my benchmark band for all Metal. And from me, there may be no bigger compliment.
Now, I’m not saying this band are an imitation, because they are most certainly NOT. They do however on a couple of occasions appreciatively nod their head in that direction, namely in vocal delivery and some of the riffs.
In terms of musical style you can’t really pidgeon hole them into a specific metal genre, something they seem to be deliberately trying to achieve, but they have elements of sludge, groove, stoner, doom and on occasions hard rock to their sound.
What they do posess is excellent musicality throughout, an ability to write catchy head infecting riffs and incredible vocal delivery.
The Black Swamp are currently made up of vocalist Stewart Wren, Jesse Kenny and Grant Scott on guitars, Rohan Downs on Bass and Brendan Woodley on drums. They are from South East Queensland, Australia. The material discussed and featured in this article was recorded with Ricky Collier on Bass duties. They started performing as a live act in 2012
Foulness is excellent from start to finish, and this is the only way to describe it.
“Medal of Horror” contains great drum work which really drives the track in a similar way Adler’s style does often for L.O.G. It’s a high impact head banger from the start and throughout.
The title track, “Foulness” (obviously) is groove at its best, with a nice melodic lead in the chorus and a breakdown that’ll have you slam dancing so hard you’ll head butt the floor.
In the song “Legion” the vocalist, Wren, shows a talent of providing impact with his vocal delivery. There are well timed but random growls and then screaming “You will remember my… name” with “name” being after the beat where you’d expect to hear it. It may seem like minor things but these subtle nuances add so much to this track. Many bands don’t seem to think about how much this can add to the groove or enjoyment of a song.
“The Fight Inside” starts with a great, southern influenced lead guitar line and riff. This then grows into a sludgy, chugging beauty of a track, one of those the more you hear it the better it gets songs.
The EP closes out with “Bastards of the Universe”. This is a track that is worth the cost of the EP alone. Stewart Wren takes the opportunity to show off his impressive vocal abilities, incorporating a cleaner style whilst maintaining his usual style in places, The riffs would leave any fan of bands like Down, Crowbar or Orange Goblin purring with satisfaction.
I’m not going to say anything about the track, Cold Dead Hands, apart from in a fan boy way, as I said to my mate Jim when I first saw it; “YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS NOW”!
Their releases so far have a variance of styles that are all performed to a high standard. When I think about what we will hear on the L.P then I hope they keep this eclectic mix going. But then I also think that if they concentrated on performing straight up groove (or sludge or anything else) it wouldn’t be an issue as they are more than proficient all the areas they cover.
You can buy the EP here for a pittance, so its really worth the investment to discover a brilliant metal band, and start getting pumped for their LP release later in the year.
Ultimately this is the type of band that I want to go and see whilst getting hammered with my mates, rocking out at the gig then leaving ready to party more! And that’s probably why they give me the “Pantera effect”, because when I hear them, I want to drink and party and when music makes you immediately want to do these things, you know it’s quality.
Band photos are by K.C Ward