Album Title: Human
Label: Ulterium Records
Date of Release: 1 March 2019
The wait has, at times, felt interminable and I did begin to wonder if Darkwater would ever return to grace our ears with a new record to follow-up the majestic ‘Where Stories End’. However, the better part of nine years later, our patience has been rewarded with album number three, entitled ‘Human’. Mind you, it has taken me almost as long to publish this review, so I consider us even.
Seriously, ‘Human’ was another album that I listened to, really liked and wanted to review, but which fell victim to my personal circumstances and lack of writing inspiration. But here we are, better late than never.
Long term fans of the Swedish quintet will certainly not be left disappointed because ‘Human’ is chock full of all of those wonderful elements that typified the first two Darkwater records. As such, expect to hear a collection of tracks that deliver plenty of melody atop a framework that is heavy, crunchy, progressive and layered with lush synths and keys. Only on ‘Human’, there’s even more sophistication and maturity at play, meaning that after a few months of listening, I can confidently declare it to be the best release of the band’s career.
‘In Front of You’ carries a wonderful groove thanks to some of the strongest riffs on the entire record. It is impossible, I have found, to listen and not nod your head. And ‘Alive (Part II)’ is infectious as hell thanks to a superbly cheeky central melody. It also features Henrik Bath’s expressive and smooth vocals as well as a moody lead guitar solo that I adore. The melodic intent within the chorus to ‘Burdens’, coupled with a ferocious energy and solo flamboyance from keys and guitar makes this another stand-out moment for me worthy of singling out.
What can easily be overlooked when listening to such a smooth-sounding album like this is just how talented the musicians are; each member of the band delivers a very strong performance which, when partnered with a really strong, clear mix, only adds to the professionalism that oozes out of ‘Human’.
If I have ever had a niggle with the output of Darkwater, it has been the sheer length of their records. I know it seems churlish to criticise a band for creating too much material but at 78 minutes, ‘Human’ is a mammoth undertaking even for a band with progressive intent.
That aside, there isn’t very much to fault with ‘Human’. It is everything and more that we hoped a talented and consistent band like Darkwater would produce. I listen to it frequently with my prized signed CD never far from the stereo. I have just two hopes: firstly, that ‘Human’ becomes a springboard for the band to garner more attention from the wider metal community. And secondly, that we don’t have to wait another nine years for another studio album, because this is too good and talented a band to live without.
The Score of Much Metal: 90%
If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others from 2019:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: